(Digital) exams

CategoriesDLF / E-Assessment / Distance Learning

Below you will find important information in connection with the online and on site testing at UZH in the autumn semester 2020. Further information can also be found on our community «Open Channel Distance Learning» on teams and also on the website of the EPIS-Team. For information on didactic questions, please consult the website Teaching Tools of the team „Hochschuldidaktik“.


1. Possible forms of examination

1.1. Remote open book exams

In a remote open book exam, students take the exam at home in front of their computer. If no Safe Exam Browser is used and if no proctoring software is available, no monitoring is possible during the exam and no restrictions on access to other applications and websites are possible. This means that, in theory, all permitted and unauthorized aids are available to students. Remote open book exams would never have been conceivable without the lockdown and the switch to online teaching. The experience of the spring semester 2020 shows that there are also some advantages associated with remote open book exams: there is no need to organize a room and infrastructure for (online) testing. There is no need for entry control and supervision personnel either. As the responsibility for a fair and honest examination is left to the students, it is important that the exam is designed in such a way that it creates as few opportunities for fraud as possible. The conception and implementation of a good open book examination is therefore a challenge and requires many technical, didactic and legal considerations in advance.

No factual knowledge testing
Open book exams must be designed so that working with additional resources, be they books, documents or websites, is part of the exam. For this reason, there is no point in testing factual knowledge that can be researched easily. The questions must be open, so that an answer must be justified in its own words, substantiated with examples or explained with a concept.

Randomization of questions and answers in MC tests
It is also recommended to randomize the answers and questions of a topic block. It is also important that the questions are not numbered if possible and do not bear individual titles. Randomization and no titles make it difficult if not impossible to solve questions together and to exchange ideas.

Code of honour
It is recommended to introduce a code of honour and that students be made aware of the impending consequences of violation. It is also advisable to inform students about what information is being tracked during the exam.

1.2. BYOD exams

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) means that students bring their own laptop. BYOD exams are therefore online examinations that take place in one place at the University and in which the students take the exam on their own laptop. The advantage of this form of examination is that the students can work on their own laptop and fewer exam equipment must be purchased. However, it is still advisable that the test organizer has some replacement devices that can be used in case of problems (power supply, outdated operating system and/or program, performance issues etc.). Experience has shown that approximately 10% of replacement devices should be available. As with a traditional exam, a BYOD exam should be followed by an incoming inspection. It is also important to have enough staff to supervise the students and help with computer problems (crashes, updates, battery testing). The disadvantage of BYOD exams is that if no Safe Exam browser is used, it is difficult to control whether someone is accessing unauthorized documents or websites or chatting with another person.
Students should be informed early enough that a BYOD exam is taking place and which devices are recommended for the exam. In addition, all students should be able to take a mock exam on their device. When using the Safe Exam Browser, you also need uncomplicated support to offer the students help with the installation.
For a BYOD exam it is important to reserve suitable rooms, equipped with sufficient sockets and powerful WLAN, early enough.

1.3. Paper-based MC-tests

Paper-based MC tests offer many advantages: It requires neither electricity nor WLAN to perform them. Besides a pen, no devices or aids are needed. The test can therefore also be performed at external locations (sports halls, concert halls).
The disadvantage of paper-based MC exams are the limited question types. In addition to multiple and single-choice questions, K-Prim (true/false questions) open questions and the querying of numerical values are also available.
If the exam is created with a corresponding software (EvaExam/EvaSys), the exam results can be automatically evaluated with a scanner at the end.

2. Platforms

2.1. Digital MC-test with OLAT

Additional OLAT instances are available for conducting open-book exams. These guarantee more security and a better load distribution. It is therefore strongly discouraged to use the normal OLAT learning platform for online examinations.

+ Lecturers and students are familiar with OLAT.
+ For examinations on OLAT there are proven processes of the Central IT Department and the EPIS team.
+ The new OLAT version 14, which will be launched in the course of the autumn semester, offers a wide range of question types. An overview can be found in the OLAT manual.

– The results are output in a confusing CSV file, which still needs to be revised.
– Reading the results can be quite time-consuming.

It is important to know the exact procedure of the examination, as this is the only way to ensure successful completion. Please pay attention to the deadlines. All institutes have an examination officer and a contact person for first level support. Contact these people at an early stage to find out what the procedure and deadlines are for the semester in question.


2.2. Essay and task submission via OLAT


Students are given one or more tasks at a certain time, which they must solve and submit within a certain time. This type of examination is especially suitable for essay tasks, i.e. for writing longer texts, for calculations or evaluations with third-party applications outside OLAT.

+ Low preparation effort for the exam
+ Students can work with the programs they are familiar with
+ Less technical problems, as students can work offline

– High correction effort
– The regular saving of the text does not happen automatically, but must be done individually.
– Students are responsible for any loss of data themselves.

For this type of test the task module in OLAT is recommended.


2.3. Oral exams with MS Teams or ZOOM

Oral exams are conducted via web conference software. The following services are available:

For the grading of lectures, both a synchronous and asynchronous procedure can be selected. With a synchronous approach, students present their lecture live in ZOOM or in teams to the people present via screen sharing. Afterwards a discussion is possible. The live character of this procedure remains the same.
In an asynchronous approach, students prepare their presentation as a podcast and then upload it to a streaming platform such as SWITCHtube. The podcast can be viewed individually prior to the discussion. By creating the podcast, media-specific skills are strengthened in addition to content and communication aspects.

Tips for individual oral exams

  • Secure the „room“ in Zoom with a password.
  • In Teams set up a separate private channel for each examinee, to which you invite only the participants present at the exam.
  • Test the connection of all participants at least 15 minutes before the exam starts.
  • For older computers, the use of a headset is recommended, as the audio quality is much better than with microphones and speakers built into computers. In most cases, a headset supplied with smartphones is suitable.
  • If the examination is to be recorded, students must be informed prior to the examination.

Teaching Tools der Hochschuldidaktik zu mündlichen Remote-Prüfungen

3. Creating MC-exam questions

For online exams with a large number of participants it is useful to apply multiple choice questions, because the answers can be evaluated automatically. However, creating good MC-questions that do not simply ask for factual knowledge but also require understanding, analysis skills or even application skills is a challenge. Therefore, there are many aspects to consider when creating a good MC exam. For the introduction and as preparation, we recommend that you consult the content in the links below. We also offer a „Coaching“, where you can discuss your exam questions discreetly with an expert from the Psychological Institute.

Contact for the coaching: dlf@phil.uzh.ch


4. Plagiarism check

To detect plagiarism more easily, the plagiarism software PlagScan is available at UZH. The software compares the submitted texts with sources from the Internet as well as licensed technical literature. In addition, students‘ work can be compared with each other in order to uncover unauthorized collaboration.
Members of the UZH can use PlagScan with their UZH login:
https://plagscan.uzh.ch/uzh (access from outside is only possible via VPN)
On the start page there is a good manual and numerous video tutorials.

Further Information

5. Legal aspects

Conducting exams involve many legal questions, especially in context with remote open book exams. We recommend the following links as well as participation in our community „Open Channel Distance Learning“ on Teams, where you can view previously answered questions and ask new ones directly in the „Legal Questions“ channel.

Last updated on September, 8 (aho)

Ähnliche Beiträge

31. AUGUST 2020

Live streaming for...

There is unfortunately no return to normality in the autumn semester. However, the...


31. AUGUST 2020

Live-Streaming für...

Auch im Herbstsemester wird es keine Rückkehr zur Normalität geben. Die Situation...


14. AUGUST 2020

Teaching Inspiration Week vom...

Als Auftakt für die Vorbereitung der Lehre im Herbstsemester 2020 organisieren das Team...


11. AUGUST 2020

Freier Zugang zu Wissen...

Digitalisierte Karten mit Ad Fontes und Digital Mappa – Karten und Lernwege für die...


27. JULI 2020

«Der Bedarf der Studierenden...

In diesem Beitrag unserer Reihe zu «Digital Humanities an der Philosophischen...


14. JULI 2020

Deep Learning in der...

Ein Beitrag unserer Reihe zu «Digital Humanities an der Philosophischen Fakultät». In...