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Digital assessment tools
As you may be aware, UiB has decided that all ordinary final exams will have to be taken electronically, practically as of now. UiB has therefore acquired a web-based software solution named "Inspera". Last week Siv Erstad (MatNat) presented the use and functionality of Inspera to us. It was apparent that Inspera is still under active development, and UiB is sending feature requests and getting continuous updates to and from the company that sells Inspera. This means that both lecturers and students are part of the testing and development process of this software solution, and it is in our interest to provide feedback to MatNat on what works, and what does not work.
An important, positive confirmation was that principle remains that the lecturers are largely in control of the exam form, not the software. This may be the main take-away from the meeting.
A second important take-away from the meeting with Siv was that Inspera allows to continue doing the same style of paper exams as we have done during the years before. The students then can choose whether they write their answers by hand, including drawings and equations, or use a form to type/typeset their answers. Typesetting equations is very slow and cumbersome, even though Latex or a formula editor can be used. It appears that we want to avoid students using this functionality, as it seems to "get in the way", they spend time on using an equation editor, rather than thinking about their answers. The answers written on paper will then be scanned by UiB and be part of a final PDF document of the entire exam, which works really well in the evaluation process afterwards. The handwriting option needs to be enabled by Elin Sletbakk, who has administrator rules. I recommend that as a general rule, you request this paper deliver option with Elin, until we and the students have more experience with using the electronic forms (only).
Using the Inspera tool to create questions takes some time to get used to. As a general working routine, we recommend that you formulate a complete set of the exam questions in one document (Word etc), including translation, if required, and then copy/paste to the Inspera forms. Each question goes into your own database of exam questions, that are then combined into Sections and Exams. With some practice, these exams can be made to look and feel like paper exams, and we have now some advice from Siv on how that is done in a good way.
Furthermore, it is possible to deliver items on paper to the students during the exams. This can be collections of equations, images or the like. Again, the lecturer remains largely in control on how the exam should be carried out.
While it is easy to be impressed, distracted or overwhelmed by fancy self-correcting drag-and-drop and multiple-choice question options that Inspera offers, and which appear as a major selling point, Siv is not in the role or position to provide input on the pedagogics concerning the use of such electronic means for assessment of the student's knowledge or ability. As long as we do not have good guidance on which question forms and tools work well for the students, or how to make proven good use of those, I would recommend using these options sparsingly, and allow students to test them in a safe environment before the exam. Programmstyret will work on getting some external advice on good use practices with electronic assessment from UPED.
Inspera will also bring some changes for the exam evaluation process. It is important to note that Inspera calculates recommended study characters based on the points that have been obtained in each questions. However, you are always free to choose another character for each student than suggested by the system. This can for example be useful when the points from additional assignments during the semester are included in the final mark. Using the marking tool in Inspera can feel clumsy, and Elin can help by exporting a csv file with all points from all questions for the students that can be used in Excel etc in a more streamlined evaluation process with your Sensors.