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Choosing and designing examination

Examination is a central part of the course and is one of the factors that most strongly affects how the students approach the learning in the course. The examination can, correctly designed, affect both what and how the students learn. The following advice, reflection questions and recommendations are developed to support you as an examiner in the process of thinking about examinations.

Process for selecting and designing examination

When designing examinations, the first thing you need to consider is what students should be able to do after completing the course and how they show it, what the central course content is and how you can evaluate that the students meet the intended learning outcomes.

Steps to define what should be examined and how the examination can be designed:

  1. Define what the students are supposed to be able to do in order to pass the course by reflecting on what is described in the intended learning outcomes.
  2. Clarify what it means to be able to show the knowledge and skills described in the intended learning outcomes.
  3. Define what is central to the course e.g. concepts that students MUST know and understand.
  4. Identify key perspectives and common misunderstandings.
  5. Consider how students demonstrate the knowledge and competencies required to pass the course. Be specific! Example: Being able to reflect on key principles in area Y is shown by first solving a given task and then explaining the solution's limitation in relation to factor X.
  6. Formulate tasks
  7. Apply appropriate tools to the examination

Consider this when choosing an alternative examination form:

Remote examination can enable students to use various aids and resources. The graded assessment tasks should therefore be designed in such a way that it evaluates the students' knowledge and not their ability to e.g. seek information (if that is not the purpose).

Different learning outcomes can be assessed differently with different types of examinations. Larger, more open questions, that can be tackled in different ways to provide an increased opportunity for the student to show different skills and knowledge at different levels. More open questions also provides larger opportunities for discussion at e.g. oral examinations. Keep in mind that different forms of examination can be combined to assess all learning outcomes in a course.

Factors that may vary with assignment performed at home:

  1. Available time: how much time you allow students to solve the task.
  2. Number of versions of the task.
  3. Form requirements for solution shown. For example let students combine computer-written text with images of sketched solutions and calculations.

Alternatives to Proctored Examinations - Assessing Student Learning in Online Courses

Presenter: Arnold Pears (professor and head of the Department of Learning in Engineering Sciences) This webinar's presentation will be held in English followed by a discussion in Swedish and English.

Arnold Pears, Professor of Engineering education presents the latest findings in his field and then a large portion of the time will be devoted to collegial discussion. In this talk some theories are presented from recent research in engineering education theory and practice. They are explored in terms of equity of assessment and academic accountability as well as their ability to reveal student capability in relation to Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO) of different types and their vulnerability to dishonest academic conduct.

Go to KTH Play for access to presentation material:
Alternatives to Proctored Examinations - Assessing Student Learning in Online Courses (KTH Play)

Contact about remote examination

Do you have questions or wish to receive guidance about digital examination?

E-mail: , mark your mail: examination guidance

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Last changed: Jan 30, 2021