Trends in Teaching and Assessment
The Ubiquity of technology like iPads, personal computers, etc. has made the all-encompassing task of transition to online testing format easier. Almost all schools and colleges use some kind of learning management system (LMS) while also publishing study material on the cloud. Moodle, Blackboard, Desire2Learn are the leading LMS used by higher education market.
This parallel teaching mode allowed educators to provide a balanced knowledge solution to their students, while also giving them the ease of evaluation and grading. Learners or students, on the other hand benefited from such systems as they could now write their tests and submit their assignments from the comfort of their home or place of their choice. This was a precursor to all assessments and evaluation to move online.
GRE, GMAT, GATE, and CAT are some of the most important and decisive exams in the world; they are also known to be the toughest. These entrance tests are not only difficult for students to crack, but it is equally difficult to set the paper each year, and also evaluate and grade it.
Quoting Prometric, a U.S. company in the test administration industry: “On November 28, 2009, CAT testing opened at 361 test labs in 104 venues across 32 cities throughout India. By the end of the testing window, well more than 200,000 candidates successfully tested. The successful conclusion of the CAT administration was an important accomplishment for the IIMs and ushered in a new era that will serve the IIMs, candidates and the Indian business community well.”
Top 5 benefits of Adopting Online Testing Format
Computer-based testing can follow an adaptive pattern of testing. This means that the system will adapt according to the pattern of student responses. This feature is critical considering that each question paper is unique and no questions are repeated. You can test the candidates without having to manually monitor which candidate got which set. This reduces the chance of cheating significantly. The same tests, when conducted using pen and paper format becomes too complicated.
Online testing can cover vast resources and include multiple references. Multiple levels and different question types can also be framed. You can run simulation or animation and have students put their observation on the same. This when done offline, would waste paper and limit the number of resources that can be utilized.
Entrance exams happen on a mass level. Online testing allows greater flexibility in timing and scheduling the test. For example, GMAT aspirants are allowed to take the exam at the time of their choosing from a place of their convenience. This means enhanced reach and more participation from students. Students would not have to travel to different cities to appear for the tests.
On the administration side, online testing systems or computer-based tests make authoring, delivering, evaluating, and grading a quick process. Apart from following a green computing strategy, the system easily scales up and down to handle increasing or decreasing test taker traffic. Students get their results way ahead of time and have the option to select from a list of colleges.
Since cloud-based assessment/testing is becoming a global concept, more assessment centres are being developed. With the introduction of online proctoring services, soon the system would be robust enough to allow a student to the take test from his home or place of his choice, without a chance to cheat in the test.
Computer Based Testing: Apprehensions
No positive change comes without significant challenges. Online testing has its own share of challenges too. The two most common being cheating and technical glitches. The potential for cheating during an online test is tough to eliminate. Also, since these assessments are cloud-based, there is a high risk of managing thousands of them simultaneously. Data security is also an added concern faced by the assessment bodies. The risk of losing or compromising the test content due to poor data security measures applied at the server end makes the testing bodies wary of the online format of testing.
IIT-JEE, one of the most prestigious engineering entrance exams in India, has decided to roll out both the patterns of testing: offline and online, for its 2014 schedule. While it acknowledges that online exams provide an upper-hand in terms of authoring and scheduling the tests for the candidates, and also allowing the candidates to mark their answers only with a click of a mouse button. However, the concerned examination authorities are still wary of the fact that system failure or power outages might become a major bottleneck.
“Advantages of computer based tests (CBT) such as quick turnaround of results, reduction in mailing and paper costs, and increase in student motivation, have encouraged the transition from paper-pencil tests (PPT) to CBTs.”- Comparability of Paper and Computer Administrations in Terms of Proficiency Interpretations
Although online testing as a method of eliciting candidate’s performance has its pros and cons, it is becoming a popular medium of evaluating skills of the candidates. With advances in technology, almost all of us have certainly encountered an online test, during our school or college days. Computer-based tests provide more flexibility to the test givers as far as authoring, scheduling, administering and grading the test is concerned. With swift test evaluation and report generation, test results can be announced almost right after a candidate has finished taking it or is out of the examination hall.
Topics: Online Examinations