General recommendations

From a purely technical point of view, remote testing is not too much of a problem. Oral examinations, like lectures and seminars, can be implemented as videoconferences, and there are several possible solutions for electronic tests at the university.

Organizational and methodological aspects need to be taken into account in online examinations: how to adapt the examination process to remote testing and how to reduce the risk of students’ cheating in an uncontrolled environment.

Some basic guidelines on how to adapt testing to a distance study mode can be found in an interview with Dr. Michal Černý published on the MUNI IT website.

The basic methodological recommendations for creating tasks for online testing have been prepared by Dr. Libor Juhaňák.

Cheating, proctoring, and “open book” testing

The greater scope for cheating that students may have in the home environment can be addressed in two ways:

  1. Attempting to create a controlled environment in which student work on the computer is restricted and/or monitored by special software (inability to switch to another programme, etc.) and in which the student is monitored by one or more cameras. Such solutions are usually referred to as proctoring;
  2. Adapting the format of the examination to the situation, so that possible cheating does not give the examinee any major advantage; so, instead of testing encyclopaedic and factual knowledge, test students’ understanding of the topic and their ability to apply the knowledge acquired, and make the exam an “open book” format.

In accordance with the guidelines of the Office for Studies of the Masaryk University Rector’s Office, we recommend that the second solution be preferred. You can use ordinary technical means to create a basic barrier that makes the most common forms of cheating more difficult. However, a methodologically well thought-out exam format will always be a more effective safeguard against cheating.

What does “open book” testing mean?

The so-called “open book” examination format means that students are allowed to use selected study materials during the examination, whether these are their own notes, course books, or internet resources. The examination, therefore, does not test students’ factual knowledge, but rather their ability to find the necessary information and, above all, to use it appropriately to solve more complex problems. Testing in this format makes cheating significantly more difficult, while also targeting the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Skills.

From a practical point of view, converting an exam into an “open book” format means first of all thinking through and formulating the questions correctly. In the case of oral exams and open-ended test questions, reformulation is a little easier: Dr. Michal Černý provides some guiding examples on the Institute of Computer Science (ICS) Distance Testing website.

If you need to test a large number of students, try to think about the questions in a way that allows for automatic assessment of correctness, but also requires more complex reasoning on the part of the students. For example, instead of the question

What characteristics of the narrator does Gérard Genette’s narratological concept work with?

  • Extradiegetic and intradiegetic.
  • Homodiegetic and heterodiegetic.
  • Hidden and uncovered.

use a question like

What are the characteristics of Vančura’s narrator in Markéta Lazarová in terms of Gérard Genette’s narratological concept?

  • Extradiegetic and heterodiegetic.
  • Intradiegetic and heterodiegetic.
  • Extradiegetic and homodiegetic.
  • Intradiegetic and homodiegetic.
Attitude towards proctoring

There are a number of reasons for reticence regarding proctoring solutions, and even for rejecting them outright. Comprehensive argumentation on this topic can be found in the document The Use of Proctoring Systems to Monitor the Course of Examinations at MU (in Czech only), which was prepared by colleagues from the IS and the ICS. We at the faculty level identify with their position and support it.

Here, however, we give only a brief summary of the most important arguments:

  • Proctoring solutions are not 100% effective – if the person being tested really wants to, they will find a way to cheat;
  • Proctoring erodes trust between students and the teacher – proctoring solutions are ethically problematic and undignified for both students and teachers because of their intrusiveness and certain implicit violence;
  • The deployment of proctoring is associated with a number of legislative and technical problems (the student need not agree to the invasion of privacy, may not have equipment with the required technological standards, etc.).
How can I ensure the integrity of the exam?

In the case of oral exams, the basic check is much simpler. You can see the examinee in real time, so you can see what they are doing and spot any suspicious behaviour. Face-to-face contact itself then creates a kind of psychological barrier against dishonest behaviour.

But remember to be judicious when assessing student behaviour. Looking off-camera may very well be a sign of nervousness, not a search for the answer in a cue stuck on the wall behind the computer.

In the case of written tests, the situation is more complicated. There are several steps, set out below, that can be taken to ensure the integrity of electronic tests.

1. In the course of preparing the questions:

  • Formulate questions that test not just knowledge of facts, but rather understanding of the material, the ability to reflect on it and apply the knowledge;
  • Create a sufficient supply of test problems and have them randomly selected for the tests - each student will then have a slightly different version of the test;
  • Variants of a test made up of only random items may be unbalanced - work with task categories to ensure a random but balanced selection of questions for each variant;
  • Remember that in the tests you can combine fixed tasks with random ones,
  • create variations of questions that test the same knowledge.

2. When setting up the test:

  • Limit access to the test to a specific time window;
  • Set a time limit for the test - enough time for students to complete it without undue stress, but not enough time for them to search for the answers on the Internet;
  • Restrict access to the test with a password, or allow access only to students registered for the term;
  • The next step is to allow the random ordering of questions within the test and to set the pagination so that students see the questions one by one and cannot go back to questions they have already answered - so each student will have a different question in front of them at any given time.

3. During the test:

You can have a video conference call running during the test, so you can see the students directly. If you choose to use this form of invigilation, we recommend using the Zoom video conferencing tool, which allows you to view more participants on the screen at once than MS Teams;

You can discover how to take basic technical precautions for ELF tests in this brief guide. A similar procedure for IS answer sheets can be found on the university’s online learning website.

  How to do oral exams online

Oral testing is quite easy to implement remotely by using video conference calls. The faculty’s recommended tool for oral examinations is the MS Teams application.

The practical procedure for preparing and conducting oral exams in MS Teams is described in detail and clearly on the university online teaching website. Detailed help with MS Teams can be found in the user documentation.

Although the format of online oral exams is very close to the in-person version, the distance format has some specifics that are worthwhile considering when implementing the exam. A number of these specifics are summarized in the interview with Dr. Michal Černý mentioned above. We recommend it therefore to all those who are preparing for the online examination.

  Written exams online

advantages, disadvantages and recommendations

Ordinary paper-based tests can be converted into an online form very easily. In the main, online tests are largely automatically scored and, if set up correctly, can provide immediate feedback to students. This saves you the time and effort you would otherwise spend on routine marking.

The obvious disadvantage is the lower security of the tests: students can cheat and spread test problems among themselves more easily with distance testing. As we have already indicated in the introduction to the page, this risk can also be seen as a challenge to create exams that test more than just students’ knowledge, but also their understanding of the material and their ability to apply the knowledge they have acquired.

If you are planning to use online testing, we recommend you read the basic tips for creating exam tasks prepared by Dr. Libor Juhaňák from the Department of Educational Sciences.

Běžné papírové testy lze do online podoby převést velmi snadno. Online testy bývají z velké části vyhodnocovány automaticky a při správném nastavení mohou studentům poskytovat okamžitou zpětnou vazbu. Ušetří Vám tak čas i námahu, kterou byste jinak museli věnovat rutinnímu opravování.

Zjevnou nevýhodou je nižší zabezpečenost testů: studenti mohou při distančním testování snáze podvádět a šířit mezi sebou zadání testových úloh. Jak jsme již naznačili v úvodu stránky, lze toto riziko vnímat i jako výzvu k vytváření testů, které ve větší míře neověřují pouze znalosti studentů, ale také pochopení látkyschopnost nabyté vědomosti aplikovat.

How to take written exams online

  Other ways to test knowledge

Of course, students’ knowledge can be tested in ways other than through tests and examinations. The inclusion of other options, such as seminar papers, peer review or scored discussion, in combination with tests, can lead to a more comprehensive examination of the knowledge acquired. It is usually a good idea to use them throughout the semester, e.g. as a means of formative assessment (Czech only), or as a condition for admission to an examination.

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