Online uni exams not expected to cause problems

Online exams are not expected to present issues for students or staff this year, the University of Otago says.

The university decided in consultation with the Otago University Students’ Association that all full-year and second semester final written exams and assessments would be held online.

There will only be a small number of exceptions for some clinical and practical exams.

Deputy vice-chancellor academic Prof Pat Cragg said the university had been preparing for this situation for some time.

Each paper already had an online exam option ready if needed.

‘‘We have already gone through this scenario last year with exams being carried out online in Semester One 2020,’’ she said.

‘‘The preference for everyone would be to have on-campus physical exams. However, staff recognise the importance of the need to give students certainty in what is a difficult time for many, and to accommodate the clear possibility that alert levels will continue to change over the next couple of months.’’

Prof Cragg said the university was giving academic staff options, so they could choose the most appropriate assessment for their paper, either online exams or the substitute of an online final assessment completed at any time during the exam period but submitted at least by the last day of exams.

Last year showed that most students dealt very well with online exams with overall results very similar to the previous year, she said.

Students were able to access assistance from university IT teams before and during exams, even if there happened to be a technical difficulty during the exam.

If Dunedin was in Level 2 at the time of the exams, students with an unsuitable living environment for sitting an exam would be able to book on-campus spaces where they could go to sit their exam.

Online exams last year did not have a negative effect on results, she said.

Discounting the grade bump applied to Semester One 2020 online exams, students in those exams on average performed better than equivalent cohorts had in physical exams in 2019, Prof Cragg said.

The Otago University Students’ Association did not respond to questions yesterday.


What could go wrong?
2 laptops open, one with the exam one with the online research open during a closed book exam