Nine fables about digital assessments

Nine fables about digital assessments

There are many fables over about digital assessments. We have listed nine of the most common fables about digital assessments below and explain why they are simply false assumptions.

  1. A computer does all the marking

Because a combination of open and closed questions is used in numerous exams, a human marker is also needed with digital assessments. With open questions, candidates formulate their own answers. With closed questions, candidates select the answer they think is correct from various alternatives.

The marking of exams with open questions cannot be automated (yet). Similarly to written exams, human markers still have to check candidates’ answers, and enter grades and any feedback in the system by hand. Sometimes, several markers are used.

Because of the manual work involved, it is logical that the announcement of the results takes a little longer than for an exam that only contains closed questions. With closed question exams that can be automatically marked, the results are immediately available to candidates.

  1. Digital assessment is expensive

Digital assessment is a long-term investment that pays for itself over time. Setting up a database full of exam items is obviously not an inexpensive operation, but the investment will certainly prove worthwhile in the future. The reason for this is that the database contents are permanently available, allowing you to generate new unique exams using the same items over and over again.

  1. A fixed moment is always required

When using a digital platform, candidates no longer have to sit exams in groups at the same physical location at the same moment in time. On the contrary, a key advantage of digital assessment is that it is not bound by time or place. Exams can therefore be taken anywhere and at any time. All a candidate needs is somewhere with an internet connection and supervision. This can be done physically at a specific exam location or remotely via online proctoring.

  1. Every user needs extensive training beforehand

Taking a training course is of course advisable to get the most out of assessment software. However, a focused workshop is usually enough to master the basics and to get started.

Whether you need to follow a complete training course or a focused workshop depends on your role in digital assessment. For example, a person who enters exam questions in the system needs to have different knowledge to an exam invigilator.

Tip: check what knowledge you require for your role before you start training. It can make a huge difference in the amount of time you will need.

  1. The larger the database, the better

A large number of questions is of course great to have, but you should also be aware that an extensive database makes collecting statistical data difficult.

In order to use statistical data, the same questions must be asked and answered several times over. If your database contains ‘too many’ questions, it will take a long time before they have all been asked and answered to obtain sufficient data for analysis purposes. In addition, all the items in the database have to be constantly reviewed to ensure they are up to date and to verify compliance with quality standards. The more questions there are, the more effort this will take and the higher the maintenance costs will be.

The question bank must naturally be representative for the subject matter. If the subject matter is extensive, you must therefore have a large number of questions at your disposal to cover every topic you wish to examine entirely.

  1. If the internet is down, exams will have to be stopped

While a candidate is sitting an exam, his or her answers are saved automatically. The exam can, however, continue in the usual way even if the internet is down. As soon as the internet connection has been restored, the answers can be saved again. If the worst comes to the worst, the exam can always be printed and taken in writing. Because the answers to written exams can be scanned, they can always be marked using digital tools.

  1. After taking digital exams, candidates cannot access details of their results

After receiving their exam results, candidates are able to view their answers. Most assessment software systems have an extensive possibility for selecting data to be viewed. Do you only want candidates to be able to see their wrong answers or do you want to allow them to see their entire exam? In this way, the most important exam questions can be kept confidential. If you publish the questions after an exam has been taken, you will never be able to build a high-quality database. Candidates should obviously not be allowed to take notes when viewing an exam.

  1. Dyslexic or poor eyesight? Digital exams cannot be customised

Did you know that digital exams can be adapted to a candidate’s accessibility needs? For example, it is possible to adjust the font size (visual support) and there is room for narration (auditory support). It is also possible to set the length of an exam for each candidate!

  1. Digital assessment forces you to use a wide range of different question forms

Digital assessment enables you to use all manner of question forms. It is tempting to use them all, for example, to make taking an exam more pleasant for the candidates. Although this seems attractive, compiling a good exam is more important, which means you should use question forms that are appropriate for the subject matter you are examining.

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