Juha-Pekka Kallunki istuu tyhjässä luentosalissa.

“I won’t go back to paper exams” – number of e-exams growing rapidly

The number of electronic exams has increased by half from last year. The electronic exam is a lighter process than the pen and paper exam.

The number of e-exams is growing rapidly at the University of Oulu. In January–June, 50 per cent or nearly a thousand more e-exams were taken than in the same period last year.

Maturity tests make up a large part of the attainments. The Education Management Group has outlined that exams for less than 15 people are to be taken in the electronic form.

The Business School, the Faculty of Technology and the Faculty of Humanities have had the most e-exams taken.

The diagram illustrates the monthly number of e-exams. Figures from 2019 are included until September. The exam rooms are closed for July.


Flexibility serves the student and the teacher

The characteristic that is often found most important in an e-exam is its flexibility. The student may take the exam at any time within the time period specified by the examiner. Taking the e-exam can be fitted in with other areas of life, such as work and family.

“Flexibility also decreases the work of a teacher. When students’ other engagements do not overlap with exams, we don’t have to negotiate alternative arrangements separately for each student,” says Juha-Pekka Kallunki, who teaches at the Business School.

Last year, Kallunki’s students took 185 e-exams within one course, which is the highest number at the university. Kallunki adopted the electronic exam soon after the Exam system was introduced at the university.

In addition to flexibility, typing on a computer is quicker than writing with a pencil and an e-exam is easier to structure than a paper exam. Examiners have also noticed this.

“I think the best part of an e-exam is that you don’t have to try to interpret the student’s handwriting,” Taru Torssonen, solution designer in Academic Affairs, says with a laugh.


E-exam makes less work

“In an e-exam, the whole examination process is lighter,” Torssonen says. Supervisors are not needed for e-exams, which frees up working time. Supervision is performed through camera monitoring and spot checks, and the records can be viewed even after six months from the exam. Many people also think that it is easier to evaluate an exam in the electronic format. If the exam includes multiple-choice questions or gap-fillers, the system evaluates the answers automatically.

It is easy to give feedback when completing the evaluation. The student sees the grade and the feedback directly from the system. The completed exam can also be forwarded directly to a student who wants to see their exam.

“It is easy when you don’t have to go through piles of paper anymore,” Kallunki says.

After it has been locked, the final grade of an e-exam is automatically transferred between systems without the teacher having to export the attainment data. Registration of attainments is also more agile.

“I no longer use paper exams and will not go back to using them. I see no reason not to start using the electronic exam,” Kallunki says.


Pilots further increase flexibility

There are two ongoing pilots related to the e-exam. It is hoped that these will further increase the number of attainments in the autumn.

The exam visit enables a student to take an exam on the premises of another university. For the student’s own university, an exam visit does not cause any additional work or arrangements.  The exam visit will be officially launched at the DigiCampus Roadshow, which arrives to Oulu in November.

“The whole idea of the e-exam is to bring flexibility to the examination, and the exam visit further increases it,” Torssonen says.

The exam visit is particularly suitable for students who spend time outside their place of study.

“I teach courses in the final stages of the degree programmes, and many of my students have already moved to another place to work,” Kallunki says.

The other pilot is the joint exam. Joint exam transcends the boundaries of universities, as the examiners and participants can be from any university that has introduced this feature. The joint exam enables a guest lecturer from another university to participate in the completion and assessment of a course without having to solve access right issues or log in to the systems of different organisations.

Last updated: 11.10.2019