Forum: online assessment

back to the discussion forum.

Initial Question from Carina Geldhauser:

I guess many of us are facing the same question now, so maybe we can bring the outcomes of our thoughts and enquiries together here

How can we assess our students without having them in an examination hall?
I guess we all realize that
– closed-book exams are out of the question, so what ever we will be discussion, it has to be an open book exam.
– we need to assume that our teaching boards will approve necessary changes to examination rules, if we can propose a good solution.

There are other factors to consider:

1) How can we control that students are not helped by older siblings or help each other via messenger services?

2) How do we deal with students who are with their families in different time zones?

3) What do we do with students which have usually special circumstances?

4) In which way could we set a test robust enough to give a numerical mark?




  • Dear All,

    thank you for creating this place. Here are some thoughts (the numbers refer to those in the original post).

    1) I don’t think we can force people to be honest, even though we can discourage them. So even though we cannot guarantee the students are abiding by the rules, we can make it hard for them to cheat. When doing this I try not to make the honest student’s life hell.
    A long term way of handling this (maybe we don’t care much for long term at the moment…) is to have cheating-deterring/honesty-promoting campaigns throughout term and during exam time. Make peer-pressure work in the way of honesty. I’ve worked with some students’ organisations towards this and it’s been quite rewarding, if slow.
    A quicker fix includes:
    – not giving too much time for the students to answer;
    – asking for hand-written answers;
    – making it known to the students that if their mark is a certain percentage above their current average, they may be asked to take an additional oral exam;
    – using different words/ways in asking the questions (I find the students are very sensitive to language and changing the words in a question, even though I ask the same thing, makes them react differently). When there is a story to the question (in more applied subjects), changing the story helps and allows you to mark the exact same calculations.

    2) If we are thinking about time differences that make day into night, maybe the only option is to create two different exams.

    4) We are pondering comparing the marks with the last 2 or 3 years of the same course and then making some adjustment, if the difference is too big. This is perhaps not entirely fair but it will be hard to please everyone, no matter what we do.

    5) My question: since the students are learning at a distance, they learn in ways that are much less related to what we as teachers do. Can we ask the same (same type) of question and be sure about the level of complexity of what we are asking? Or how should we go about it?

    Looking forward to reading your thoughts!

  • Hello everyone,
    I would like to share with you how I decided to adapt the exam to the new reality that we live.
    I teach Complements of Numerical Analysis for a small group of students and I have decided to assign them group projects, asking queries related to what I did during the classes. This to evaluate the lab part. They will present the projects to all the class using Google Meet (the tool that I am using for my lectures) .
    Then the oral exam will remain invariant, maybe using tools such as overleaf, so they can write down the formulas, of course using Google Meet as well.

    All the best

  • Thank you for your comments, that was very enlightning!
    My colleagues agreed that we can’t have any reasonable closed-book exam in such circumstances, so it should be open book. Now, open book in the internet age is much more challenging to control, and this means, as you also said, that questions will be different from usual.
    However, this may be challenging for younger students, which practice also with the exams from earlier years and will be very surprised and worried when they get such different questions. Now, they cannot be asked definitions or theorems anymore, but they need to earn all their points *thinking*. We may see this positively, but we should also face the fact that it means maybe more students will get worse marks than usual. Or what do you think?

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