Uncertainty around exams remains

Uncertainty around exams remains

Almost two weeks after the university cancelled all physical classes, there is still much uncertainty about what to do with the exams. Students are inundating their lecturers with e-mailed questions. But they don’t know what to tell them.
25 March om 12:09 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 25 March 2020
om 12:30 uur.
March 25 at 12:09 PM.
Last modified on March 25, 2020
at 12:30 PM.


Christien Boomsma

Door Christien Boomsma

25 March om 12:09 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 25 March 2020
om 12:30 uur.
Christien Boomsma

By Christien Boomsma

March 25 at 12:09 PM.
Last modified on March 25, 2020
at 12:30 PM.
Christien Boomsma

Christien Boomsma

Achtergrondcoördinator en wetenschapsredacteur
Volledig bio
Achtergrondcoördinator en wetenschapsredacteur
Full bio

On Monday, the option to administer exams online became available. Lecturers can use Blackboard Collaborate for oral exams and presentations. Another option is an online written exam. But none of the options are really ideal. ‘Exams have to abide by certain rules and that’s harder to do online’, says UG spokesperson Gernant Deekens. ‘It’s up to the faculty exam committees and the faculties themselves.’

Exams have to meet the right requirements. They should test students’ knowledge of the material properly and cover all the relevant learning objectives, like expertise or analytical skills. Large multiple-choice exams are out, however, and making students do an assignment instead often means too much work for the lecturers. Then there’s the matter of making sure students don’t look up the answers online.

Open-book exams

‘I think we’ll be seeing a lot of open-book exams’, says health law professor Brigit Toebes. ‘We’re discussing the option, anyway.’ She thinks it might be a pretty good solution. ‘In the end, it’s much more like reality than a regular exam. We’re always looking stuff up in our work’, she says.

Pharmaceutical professor Eelko Hak spends most of his time on e-mail correspondence with the exam committee, he says. ‘Teaching online is going pretty well, but I’m mainly worried about the exams. Can we trust the students to do it themselves? Are their laptops and internet connections up to the task? How can I formulate the right questions to test for the learning goals?’

Student pledge

To prevent fraud, the university has included a student pledge in the online testing environment. Students pledge to take the exams by themselves and only use the materials that are allowed. They’re also reminded that fraud and plagiarism are serious offences and will be reported to the exam committee.

Finally, lecturers are advised to randomly contact students through video conferencing and ask them extra questions or ask them to provide additional information. 

Exams in june

No one is talking about rescheduling the exams, however. ‘We haven’t heard anything about that’, says business administration lecturer Derk-Jan Heslinga. He attended a webinar on online testing, but no one has provided any clarity on the issue. 

He argues that all exams should be postponed until June. ‘I think it would be best to schedule one big exam period in June and July, of six or seven weeks. That way, the lecturers have the opportunity to prepare and the ESI will have time to roll out the online options. An exam isn’t something you can just have a stab at. You have to get it right straight away.’

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