ARE ONLINE EXAMINATIONS A VIABLE ALTERNATIVE TO PAPER-BASED EXAMINATIONS FOR ASSESSMENT OF HUMAN PHYSIOLOGY?

Karen Elizabeth Mate, Jude Weidenhofer

Abstract


There are practical and pedagogical reasons for the increasing role of online assessment in higher education. This study examines student performance on paper-based and online examinations, varying both examination settings and proportions of questions coded by a modified Bloom’s taxonomy, to inform the effective and sustainable assessment of first year students in an introductory human physiology course. Student performance was analysed across three delivery formats of a mid-semester multiple choice assessment of the same concepts. Delivery formats were either i) invigilated paper examination with questions presented in random order across three versions of the paper, ii) online non-invigilated with answers in random order and questions presented individually in random order with no ability to backtrack or, iii) online non-invigilated with answers in random order and questions presented individually in random order and the ability to backtrack. Allowing students to backtrack appeared to improve student time-management, with more students completing all questions in the examination with these settings. Questions classified according to a modified Bloom’s taxonomy showed student performance in lower-level Bloom’s questions was significantly higher in online formats, especially when backtracking was allowed. Performance in higher level questions did not vary across formats. As such an ‘open book’ online assessment can provide similar rigor and discriminating power as an invigilated assessment if consideration is given to adjusting towards a higher proportion of questions assessing higher order learning.

Keywords


assessment, online assessment, academic integrity, Bloom’s taxonomy

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