6.6 Online formal examinations


Online formal examinations

Formal examinations held within a computer classroom can be conducted using VLE Exam. Yorkshare quizzes can be deployed allowing automated marking of multiple-choice questions and other question formats, as well as accepting short, free-text responses for manual marking. VLE Exam runs on a secure system that does not allow students to access any of their own resources or the internet whilst using the computer during the examination. It also operates outside the normal VLE, allowing highly controlled access to the question set and responses.

Why use VLE exam?

There are a number of reasons why you might wish to consider using VLE exam for formal assessments.

  • Scalability: the service enables large cohorts (e.g. 160 students) to sit the same digital exam at the same time across multiple PC classrooms on campus;
  • Customisation: by using question banks, question items can be served up in a randomised order to different students, in this way minimising scope for cheating; numerical variables can also be used to extend the range of possible question items;
  • Assessment efficiencies: automated marking for defined response questions can ensure consistency in the process and can also reduce the time needed to return marks and feedback to students;
  • Pedagogic benefits: the combination of defined response and open questions can test for criticality and higher order thinking;
  • Assessment benefits: the digital medium offers opportunities for different types of questions and can provide immediate benefits such as shaper representation of images than paper-based exam scripts. The digital approach is also beneficial to students, as it does not discriminate against students with poor handwriting;
  • Evaluation and review benefits: the VLE exam service enables ‘out of the box’ difficulty and discrimination analyses to be undertaken on your question-set, helping you to identify underperforming question items and areas for improvement.

Getting started with VLE Exam

Please consult section 13 of the Guide to Assessment for guidance on how to use the VLE exam.

As a starting point, you will need to seek approval from your Board of Studies and certain revisions to assessment arrangements may require the approval of the Standing Committee on Assessment. You should also let the Exams Office know of your plans. You will also need to secure room bookings for the PC classrooms that you intend to use for the exam.

You will also need to consult with the ELDT, as the use of the VLE Exam service needs to be pre-arranged – with ELDT and IT Services’ Desktop team  providing dedicated support to you on examination day.

The next task will be the development of the question set. See the Yorkshare Quiz page for further advice on the types of questions that can be developed. VLE Exam is not intended for long text answers, and is best suited to multiple-choice questions, matching and short answers. Question pools allow for a random selection of questions to be issued to students. For example, you could create a pool of questions for one sub-topic, another pool for the next topic, etc. The exam would then draw a set number of questions from each pool.

For more information and consultation over examination plans, please contact the E-Learning Development Team at vle-support@york.ac.uk

Summary of key dates when planning a VLE Exam

Timing Action
Before you begin teaching… Consult with the ELDT on examination planning and scope for formative and summative computer-based exams using VLE Exam.

Book the PC classrooms that you will be using for the formative /summative exams

At least 8 weeks before the summative exam Confirm the date and location of the exam (PC classrooms that will be used) with IT Services and ELDT
At least 4 weeks before the summative exam Share the question-set with the ELDT and outline any special arrangements that will be required by individual students
At least 1 week before the summative exam Confirm students who will be taking the exam, sharing a spreadsheet of names / Exam IDs with the ELDT

Developing online exams

For more information and consultation over examination plans, please contact the E-Learning Development Team at vle-support@york.ac.uk

Case study

E-Learning Walkthrough

VLE Exam

VLE Exam for summative assessment.
Dr Zoe Handley, Education
View  VLE Exam Case Study

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