Business, Economics and Finance student, Debbie Andrews, talks us through her experience of online assessments.
As this summer’s exams season approached it was clear that the arrangements would have to be quite different to before. All learning had moved online, and exams had been renamed ‘assessments.’ This time there would be no meeting friends for last minute revision in the canteen, or the slow walk down the corridors to the sports hall, followed by the wait outside before the exam began. Exams (sorry assessments) would be taken at home, wherever in the world that happened to be.
On top of all the normal revision activities and lecturer led examination preparation sessions, there were additional procedures and compliance rules to take in. The most surprising change was the time extension given to all students. Basically, the length of the exam doubled! So, my 2 ½ hour Global Economics exam was now 5 hours long!
My lecturers explained that the extra time would be needed and that things might take a bit longer because:
1. The exam paper will not be on your desk beforehand so will need to be downloaded
2. When the exam starts, you must type in your answers, insert any hand drawn diagrams or graphs into your document and then upload your answer paper before the cut off time.
These things take time!
The university had sent through a guide explaining what to expect, where the papers would be, who to contact with technical issues and how to act. All students had a responsibility to act with integrity and there would be consequences should misconduct be suspected.
On the morning of my first assessment I had the same nervousness I have on any exam day. However, this time my main concern were technical issues. What would happen if the exam paper didn’t appear on Blackboard? What would I do if the internet went down and I could not upload my answers? What would happen if my laptop stopped working? All these questions and many more had been clearly answered in the guidance but still….it was assessment day and I was allowed to be nervous.
At 9:15am the paper appeared right on cue. For the first 30 minutes or so I literally faffed around not achieving anything positive. I read the instructions, created a Word document on automatic save and finally realised I needed to print the exam paper off to help me focus. I was pretty grateful for all the extra time I had been given.
Finally, I settled down to work through the paper. And, yes, typing was slower. Being able to review and alter what I had written, improved my initial answers but slowed me down as well. With 15 minutes to spare I uploaded my answer document. We had been told not to wait until the last minute in case of issues, late submissions would not be allowed! Everything had worked perfectly but I was shattered and I did miss the post exam catch up with friends as you leave the hall.
My second assessment, later in the week, was originally an hour-long exam. This time I only had two hours to crack it and I would need lots of graphs, so I needed to focus quickly. I settled much quicker and, with only 10 minutes to spare, uploaded my answers.
My assessments were done. Was I euphoric? YES and delighted it was over. The technology had worked seamlessly and hopefully all the revision will have paid off with good results.
I hope this blog of my experience helps those students who need to complete online assessments. You can do it, prep is the key, read the guide and don’t worry so much about the technology.