Guidelines and guidance for remote examinations
- Guidelines for conducting remote written examinations at Uppsala University
These guidelines concern the conduct of remotely delivered written examinations, including digital examinations, for students enrolled at Uppsala University. ‘Remote written examinations’ means written examinations that could be given in exam rooms, with a limited time for answering the exam during a single day, but which are instead conducted remotely using information technology (IT).
- Guidance for remote examinations
This document is intended for Uppsala University staff who work with student examinations.This guidance is a complement to Uppsala University’s Guidelines for conducting remote written examinations and it is intended to provide practical advice and guidance in both designing and conducting different forms of remote examination, such as remote oral and written examinations as well as take-home examinations.
The Vice-Chancellor’s decision of 17 March directed that Uppsala University should switch to remote assessment from 18 March 2020 onwards. It is difficult to translate invigilated exams in exam rooms to online formats. It is more a matter of trying to find alternative modes of assessment. These pages contain some recommendations on take-home exams, quizzes and oral exams.
Some important lessons learned
Instructions for students are crucial when using new modes of examination. Make sure to provide information well in advance of the remote exam. Here are a few important points to include in the instructions:
- Make sure it is clear what is allowed and what is not permitted in remote exams
- What it means that remote exams must be answered independently and individually
- Whether students are allowed to collaborate and if so in what way
- What counts as plagiarism in remote exams
- That plagiarism checks will be made using Urkund
- What students should do and how they can obtain support if the technology malfunctions
- Be clear about how Zoom surveillance works, if that will be used
One frequent question at the moment concerns the possibility of checking up on remote exams using Inspera.
The same rules and principles regarding cheating and plagiarism apply to exams taken at home as to exams taken in an exam room. The difference is the possibility of invigilation while the exam is in progress. The safest form of exam at home is an oral exam using Zoom, which presupposes a relatively small group of students. In such an exam, students can show their ID and need to know the material to be able to answer the questions the teacher asks. In larger student groups, however, this procedure becomes impracticable.
We are getting some questions about the possibility of monitoring students taking remote exams. At present, there is no sure means of doing so. Locking students’ computers to prevent internet surfing is possible, to be sure, if a special web browser, a Safe Exam Browser, has been installed, but this only provides an illusion of security since students may have a mobile phone available.
Any attempt to invigilate an exam remotely while it is in progress via the student’s web camera (e.g. by means of a Zoom meeting) can easily be circumvented by anyone who wants to do so, e.g. by having an earphone that does not show. It is also difficult to see how to move from suspicion to proof. If a student goes to the toilet during an exam, that also offers opportunities for cheating.
If you are considering online invigilation, we recommend that you first contact the University’s data protection officer for advice and to avoid choosing a form that is prohibited or inappropriate. You can contact the data protection officer via email at email@example.com.
Another possibility (besides an oral exam) is to shorten the time allowed for answering multiple choice questions. However, students have proved to be quick at googling, so not even that makes cheating impossible.
The alternative that you have at your disposal is to adapt the questions so that they cannot be answered by a quick search on the internet. You can find out how to go about this on the page about take-home exams. A take-home exam that students hand in via Studium, the Student Portal or Inspera can be easily checked using Urkund.