Last semester, the IPHY department was the first department in Arts and Sciences to give e-exams to their students. An e-exam is taken completely on the computer without using any paper. Nutrition, Health, and Performance (IPHY 2420) debuted the new e-exams, which were developed over the summer with the help of IT staff. More than 400 students took the e-exams using their personal computers or one borrowed from Instructional Technology (IT). After the first exam, the students were surveyed and 86% had a favorable impression of the e-exams. When asked why, most of the students said that they thought the exams were very convenient and they liked saving paper. Over the tests given in the course, the class saved 24,000 pieces of paper in a single semester.
Dr. Suzanne Nelson, who teaches IPHY 2420, was inspired to try e-exams after taking a law final online in the spring semester. Because it was so easy and saved lots of paper, she asked IT if they could develop the same thing using the Desire to Learn (D2L) software currently used by Arts and Sciences. IT, under the direction of Viktoriya Oliynyk, worked on it over the summer and it was ready for testing in August. One of the concerns about the e-exams is that there would be cheating, particularly using the Internet. Dr. Nelson and her teaching assistants (TAs) worked hard to make cheating very difficult. When the student is done taking the exam, a unique picture shows on the desktop so the student knows that the exam has been saved. Dr. Nelson also initiated a new system where the students have to scan out using their Buff OneCards to leave the classroom after the exam to prevent them from logging back on to continue the exam.
After the students take the e-exam, the test is graded instantly. Dr. Nelson can look at the graphed results to see what questions were most often missed or answered correctly. The grades are rapidly posted to D2L and students can see their grade within minutes. Dr. Nelson plans to continue e-exams in the future because of how quick and convenient they are. The IPHY department no longer has to pay for printing exams or scanning the answer sheets. Dr. Nelson says, “Overall it was a very positive learning experience and it worked very well. I am excited to teach others about e-exams so we can continue to save paper and time on campus.”