Facilitating E-Exams at a Multi-Campus Regional University

Transforming Exams at a Multi-Campus Regional University...

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In 2012-13, the CQUniversity ICT Program Committee initiated an investigation into the possible use of electronic exams (e-exams) at CQUniversity. Early investigation by Dr Mary Tom and Colin Beer of CQUniversity led to a meeting with Dr Mathew Hillier from UQ to discuss his e-exams system, which was a bring your own device (BYOD) system based on the use of a secure alternate operating system loaded onto a USB stick and booted into by students to conduct the exam. Further investigation into this system established the basic feasibility and benefits of e-exams and this eventually led to an initial trial of an e-exam system on the Melbourne campus in Term 2, 2014, conducted by Dr Michael Cowling and Mr Ken Howah.  A further trial was conducted in Term 3, 2014 on the Brisbane and Sydney campus (with local campus support from Associate Professor Ergun Gide) using different courses. Both were considered successful trials of the system with no technical issues.

Leading on from this, early in 2015, the team at CQUniversity was invited to participate in a National Office of Learning & Teaching (OLT) Innovation & Development (I&D) Grant application instigated by Matthew Hillier, now at Monash University, to further investigate the benefits of and develop the technology for conducting electronic exams. This Grant application was ultimately successful, resulting in CQUniversity becoming a core partner institution in the investigation, and importantly, gaining access to funding resources needed for further trialling of the chosen e-exam system.  Seven other universities are also associate partners in this grant, but have not been provided with the funding that the core partners (UQ, CQU and University of Tasmania) have been promised.

The aims of the broader OLT project are to:

1. Build an e-exam platform to be used in supervised, BYOD settings that includes computer marked questions and electronic reticulation of student responses; and

2. Developing guidelines to assist students, educators and administrators to effectively prepare and undertake e-exams taking into consideration the whole assessment workflow. This project builds on work completed in a previous OLT Seed grant.

Having been involved in two previous trials during the prior OLT seed grant, as a core partner in the following OLT I&D grant, CQUniversity has agreed to contribute to these aims by completing trials of the developing e-exams system with the unique CQUniversity student cohorts and existing examination process.

In addition, the CQUniversity e-exams team has three aims unique to our particular university context:

1. Investigate the effect of e-exams on the exam performance and satisfaction of CQUniversity students;

2. Determine whether e-exams can provide a cost effective and equitable service for CQUniversity; and

3. Identify the implementation and transition issues of e-exams for CQUniversity which is a national regional university and infer possible issues for other RUN universities with a similar set up.

If you are interested in discussing the CQUniversity e-exams trials, please contact Dr Michael Cowling, Dr Mary Tom, or Ken Howah via the contact page on this site.