Traditional V/s Online Examinations

Dr. Jyoti Dutt and
Dr. Manmohan Sharma
The COVID-19 has resulted in schools shut all across the world. Globally, over 1.2 billion children are out of the classroom. As a result, education has changed dramatically, with the distinctive rise of e-learning, whereby teaching is undertaken remotely and on digital platforms. Even before COVID-19, there was already high growth and adoption in education technology, with global edtech investments reaching US$18.66 billion in 2019 and the overall market for online education projected to reach $350 Billion by 2025. Whether it is language apps, virtual tutoring, video conferencing tools, or online learning software, there has been a significant surge in usage since COVID-19. Most professors and students in India suddenly find themselves forced to use on-line technology as they teach and learn using large number of apps such as Google classrooms, Classtree, WhatsApp, Zoom, LinkedIn You Tube, etc. and plateforms such as SWYAM, MOOC, E-Pathshala, Diksha, National Repository of Open Education Resources, etc.
One important aspect of effective teaching-learning process are examinations, the process of evaluation of students in terms of their understanding of the subject matter out of the prescribed syllabus taught by the teachers through classroom teaching or other online learning modes. It is used to check the improvement in knowledge and understanding level of the learner after delivery of series of lectures and instructions on a specific subject/topic. The evaluation can be done through subjective and objective exams. Both have their own pros and cons. Like in subjective exams the objective is to see how efficiently a examinee can respond to a question keeping in view the waitage and time allowed. The responses may range from single line answers to very long answers involving many paragraphs. This has remained one of the traditional methods of evaluation. Gradually the objective mode of evaluation evolved which is now integral part any examination system. More specifically all the competitive exams, conducted online or offline, for admissions to higher education in professional colleges and universities are purely objective in nature, The objective system of evaluation has gained importance in the era of online teaching and learning since students are not well equipped to simultaneously thinking, articulating the matter and then typing lot of contents in a fixed timeframe. So examining students on-line using subjective answers does not seem to be a feasible option, more so when teaching is done through on-line apps and plateforms. Therefore, students’ assessment has to be done in new and innovative modes in the new millennium, particularly in situations like COVID-19 which has suspended the classroom teaching, learning and evaluation. Some of these on-line evaluation tools are discussed here:
Though it may seem old-fashioned, quizzes are an excellent way to engage student learning, particularly when paired with technology. Quiz answers can take a number of forms, from short answer to true/false and multiple choices. One benefit of quizzes is that they are short and easy to assess. Another is that, with digitally designed quizzes, question order and options can be randomized, so each student’s quiz is unique.
For a quick and short answer assessment fill-in-the-blanks is a great alternative. To complete this option, teachers write a series of statements about important lesson points, replacing key topic terminology with blank spaces. This is similar to a multiple choice question, except students have a wider choice of options in that they must choose the correct term from a larger word bank, or come up with the term themselves, based on what they remember from the lesson. This type of assessment may take the same form as the quiz above. Teachers can assess via a digital medium in real time, by asking students to mark their peers, by collecting and marking overnight, or a combination thereof.
Matching Questions
Similar to multiple choice questions in quizzes, matching questions offer students a bank of words or phrases from which to choose their answers. When using matching questions, teachers provide text and/or images and ask students to pick an option from column A, and the corresponding matching option in column B. Unlike multiple choice questions, matching questions are not limited to 3 or 4 options, making matching questions a little more difficult to solve via process of elimination. Matching questions are great tools for minds-on activities. They also work well as diagnostic and formative assessments, and/or as quiz questions.
Forum Post
Asking students to contribute to a forum post is an excellent way to gauge student understanding, pique their interest, and support their learning. In this activity, students are given a critical thinking question based on a lesson or a reading, and are asked to reflect on both. Their answers are posted to a forum and their peers are given the chance to respond. Parameters may be set with respect to initial posts and peer responses. When closed, the teacher can view the forum to see how students are engaging with the material.
Peer Evaluation and Review
Participating in a forum fosters communication between students. Peer evaluation and review allows students to anonymously review and edit each other’s work. Third-party platforms, such as TurnInItn’s PeerMark, facilitate distribution and the collection of data using rubrics or prescribed assessment questions. Teachers are able to log in and track individual participation in the activity, as well as monitor comments or peer evaluation feedback.
Poll/Quiz results in real time
Conducting a student poll is a great way for students to answer questions truthfully and anonymously, and to see, in real time, how they stack up to the rest of the class. Many learning and management systems (LMSs) have a built-in poll feature, which calculates and displays results in real-time. Polls are made especially powerful when paired with a forum post or live quiz. Students may be polled first, and asked to explain why they voted in the way they did in a forum post. Similarly, real-time quiz apps or separate hardware, like clickers, can help teachers poll their classes. The software generates and displays results so students can see how their answers compare to the rest of the class. The advantage of quiz apps over clickers is that students can answer polls by logging into the site with their handheld devices.
Exit Cards
Exit cards, also called “minute papers” are question-and-answer style tasks that students must complete in the final 5 or 10 minutes of a class. Though they may contain questions similar to those covered in the quiz and fill-in-the-blank sections above, they are most useful when students are asked to exercise critical thinking ability in a short answer response. Students may be asked a single question requiring one or more sentences, to summarize the main points of the lesson, or to complete a task, such as solving a math equation or writing a thematic statement for a piece of literature. Exit cards are quick to assess, as they contain only a few sentences at most, but they can help the teacher gauge student understanding of learning targets in a short amount of time. Digital exit cards may be collected via email or using an LMS’s internal messaging system.
Online Learning Modules
Using an LMS to create an online learning module is a great way to gauge, track, and modify student learning and engagement. To create an online learning module, the teacher creates a series of slides or web pages, which are organized, delivered, and monitored by the LMS. Teachers can use branching to provide additional instruction and/or questioning to support the level of each learner. Students can be barred from moving forward in the module until selected criteria – gauged in the form of completion of tasks, polls, quizzes, etc. – are met. Teachers monitor student progress using a variety of tools (most of them detailed above) for assessment and evaluation purposes, modifying the module as they receive assessment results. LMS like iSpring Learn LMS, iSpring QuizMaker and iSpring Suite are powerful collection of digital resources for educators. iSpring QuizMaker allows teachers and educators to incorporate audio, video, images and animation to create a variety of interesting and engaging assessment activities, including matching, sequence, multiple response, multiple choice, survey and hotspot questions, using branching techniques as described above. Flexible scoring allows teachers to assign a number of success criteria including passing scores, awarding custom and penalty points, and points for part answers. Quizzes created with iSpring QuizMaker have the added bonus of being fully accessible for all devices and LMSs.
All these on-line evaluation modes invoke thinking ability and critical analysis of the subject matter, which is the ultimate purpose of an effective teaching-learning and evaluation system. .
(The authors are Assistant Professor (English), GCW, Gandhinagar and Associate Professor, School of Biotechnology, SKUAST-Jammu)