Written invigilated exam with aids

For a written invigilated exam with aids, students are presented with an exam paper formulated by the internal examiner. This exam paper can comprise several independent sub-tasks, possibly with sub-questions. The assignment may be completed with aids. The curriculum must specify exactly which aids are allowed. If this is not explicitly stated, “aids” are basically deemed to mean anything that could assist the student in completing the assignment. In other words, “aids” covers everything from the student’s own notes as hardcopy or in electronic form to text books and articles, or IT software and material accessed online.

This type of test is usable to a certain extent only for testing the ability of students to understand and reflect on theory, methods and practice, as the very limited timeframe restricts the depth that can be expected for this type of reflection.

This type of exam can also be used for case exams and essay exams. In such cases, students are often given just one or only a few questions, but at the same time they are given the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skills at a higher taxonomic (Danish Qualification Framework) level.

Exams on site can be of short or long duration (from 2 to 6 hours), but in all cases, in evidencing standards for academic qualifications, they also test the students’ ability to act within a timeframe without losing sight of the big picture or becoming stressed out.

Learning objective that can be addressed using this assessment method
Knowledge of theory, method and practice X
Understanding and reflecting on theory, method and practice (X)
Applying methods and tools X
Assessing problem definitions and selecting solution models (X)
Communicate and discuss academic issues  
Dealing with complex situations – in the context of studying or work (X)
Ability to independently initiate collaboration  
Taking responsibility for personal learning and development  

X indicates that this assessment method is suitable for testing the learning outcome. (X) indicates that this assessment method is of only limited use for this.

Evaluating the method of assessment

Assessment Criteria
Validity Depending on the length of the test, questions may be asked on larger or smaller sections of the syllabus.

Thus, there is scope for high content validity, but the timeframe usually constrains the number of questions and thus the content validity of this type of test.
Reliability As a general rule, the more questions asked, the greater the reliability. This type of test can be used to test questions that have an unambiguous answer. This is why the marking criteria are usually clear in such situations, and this increases reliability. Reliability suffers if different examiners are used, each marking some of the answers.

When this type of test is applied to case exams or essay exams, the evaluation criteria are less clear, and fewer questions are asked. This constrains reliability. While with case or essay exams, the advantage is the ability to test a higher classificatory learning target, there is also the disadvantage of reliability being less clear.
Backwash effect from testing to teaching This type of test has a tendency to prompt students to focus on acquiring knowledge and using relevant reference works instead of reflection and thinking for themselves. Thus, it can be difficult to motivate students to engage in learning activities in which they must personally make comparisons and assess different approaches to theory or methods. This applies less to case or essay exams. With these, however, there can be a tendency for students to oppose group work, which is perceived as irrelevant in relation to writing essays.
Resources Formulating good exam questions is time consuming, and re-using questions from one year to another is not an option. On the other hand, examination assignments are relatively quick to assess. Essay questions are more time consuming than MCQ to mark however the assignments are seldom very long due to the time-limit. This means that the time spent marking is relatively short in most cases.
Digitisation Enables the option of Internet access. Restricted Internet access can be granted.

This provides a means of checking the students’ answers to questions for any plagiarism using the SafeAssign function in e-learn.sdu.dk.
Acceptance There are somewhat mixed views among students, teachers and employers with regard to this type of test. If there is access to all aids, including all web-based material, some people regard this as resembling work situations in which a person has one morning to write a brief report. Others feel the short time limit, combined with the fact that the questions do not relate to higher taxonomic learning targets, makes this an inappropriate and out of date format.