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Online technology makes taking tests easier

August 4, 2004

Online technology makes taking tests easier

If you hate the eerie silence of an exam room, you are not alone. But for Physics students at The University of Auckland, the silence is less frequent these days.

Physics students in the Faculty of Science can now complete their assessments online, in their own time, and instantly find out how well they scored thanks to a new integrated learning and assessment system.

Developed by the University's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the OASIS (Online Assessment and Integrated Study) system allows students to prepare for tests, as well as do tests online.

Dr Rob Kruhlak, a research fellow in the Physics Department, says OASIS allows students to do similar questions several times to become familiar with problem-solving techniques at university level.

OASIS marks the questions based on model answers and students see the correct answers side-by-side with their answer.

"Students can choose to redo the question as many times as they like with new inputs that are generated randomly so that each student gets unique numbers at each attempt while being tested on the same concept," says Dr Kruhlak.

Dr Kruhlak says that by allowing students to do the same problem again and again, OASIS helps them to get a better understanding of the physical models involved.

"We find OASIS particularly useful for first year students as the online learning system means they are able to learn in their own time, and at their own pace."

In an assessment situation, students attempt questions only once. Students are given a 24 hour period to do their assessment, and once they have started they have one hour to complete the "paper". The OASIS assignments can be taken anywhere as long as there is a computer with internet access and a web browser.

OASIS doesn't only benefit students. Lecturers also benefit as the assessments are marked automatically.

The system provides statistical data related to student use of the system, as well as assessment data like average total marks and average marks per question.

"With OASIS we not only get average marks for the test, but also average marks for each question, which allows us to pinpoint concepts which are difficult for the students. The system also allows us to find out how much time students spend on each question as well as the time of day that they took the assessment," says Dr Kruhlak.

In the future, the data could also be able to indicate what time of day students find best for undertaking assessments.

Currently, OASIS has replaced traditional "open-book" in-class assessments, which are part of a students course work but evening tests are still done in the traditional way with pen and paper.

Although OASIS is only used at university level, Dr Kruhlak says it is highly applicable to secondary school physics.


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