Written invigilated exam without aids

For a written invigilated exam without aids, students are presented with an exam paper formulated by the internal examiner, for completion under the supervision of an invigilator. This exam paper can comprise several independent sub-tasks, possibly with sub-questions. The exam paper must be completed without aids (analogue or digital). 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 good for testing students’ rote knowledge, their knowledge of methods and their skills at applying these. If questions are asked that require reflection on theory, method and practice, it is possible, to some extent, to test what students think about this without additional inspiration from other sources.

Exams on site can be of short or long duration (from 2 to 6 hours), but in all cases, in addition to 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. The time dimension, together with the absence of aids, makes it possible to test what and how much students are able to deal with exclusively based on routine (the automated action that is a necessary prerequisite for subsequent reflection (1)).

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  
Communicating and discussing academic issues  
Dealing with complex situations – in the context of studying or work  
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, high content validity is possible, although not a certainty. Provided that the learning targets are a matter of rote knowledge and awareness of memorable methods, there could also be a high level of construct validity. As with other written exams, however, validity is very much dependent on the questions being formulated precisely and unambiguously, as there is no possibility of helping a student who has misunderstood the question to get back on the right track.
Reliability This type of test is often used to test questions that have a relatively unambiguous answer. This is why the marking criteria are usually clear, and this increases reliability. As a general rule, the more questions asked, the greater the reliability.
Backwash effect from testing to teaching This type of test has a tendency to make students focus on acquiring rote knowledge. 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.
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 mark.
Digitisation Computers can be set up to disallow Internet access and therefore function as a typewriter.

This provides a means of checking the students’ answers to questions for any plagiarism using the SafeAssign function in e-learn.sdu.dk.
Acceptance Many people (students, teachers and employers) regard this type of test as slightly out of date, as it mainly tests rote knowledge in a situation that is far removed from realistic work situations, so it may seem artificial.

(1) Andersen, H. L. & Tofteskov, J. (2008). Eksamen og eksamensformer – betydning og bedømmelse [Examination and types of examination – significance and marking]. Frederiksberg: Samfundslitteratur, p. 40.