Exams can be designed in many ways: in presence or absence, analog or digital, open book or without aids, with open questions or multiple choice, etc. This page focuses on exams that take place in absence, mostly in digital mode. On this website, we offer concrete suggestions for the implementation of various exams and advice on them.
Please note that this site is intended as a discussion and inspiration for lecturers to support the design and implementation of exams, and does not provide any binding guidelines. It is up to the lecturers to decide which implementation they choose for which lecture. You will be informed separately by your faculty manager about any faculty-specific regulations (if applicable).
For additional support please visit:
Factsheet Oral Exams with ZOOM (in German)
Factsheet Written Exam with WORD (in German)
Factsheet Multiple Choice with OLAT (in German)
Factsheet Turnitin (in German)
Video tutorial on Turnitin (in German)
Oral exams are relatively easy to perform even under corona conditions and similar to their usual process. Usually such examinations are held in threes with examiner, student and transcriber. The already well-known platform ZOOM allows this with the setting "Waiting room", whose setup is described here. As in the case of on-site oral exams, students have the opportunity to discuss the questions outside of the exams. Therefore, it is generally recommended to individualize the questions and contents: Different subject areas and examples for students, explaining the answers using self-chosen examples, and randomization of questions. Grading criteria communicated in advance also provide transparency and security for students.
Factsheet Oral Exams via ZOOM (in German)
Exams without supervision can be continued unchanged. This applies to seminar papers, dissertations and posters as well as to all digital examination formats. The highly recommended discussion of such an exam can be conducted as usual via ZOOM. It is also recommended to postpone the deadline for submissions, since the burden of many students may have increased considerably due to necessary extra-curricular activities such as childcare or military service.
Written exam with WORD
Written exams include all closed book exams, i.e. the classic on-site exams in which many students are simultaneously examined in writing in the same room under supervision with the same questions. Resources are either not allowed at all or only very clearly defined, for example a dictionary, a legal text or the lecture notes. Here you will find suggestions on how to implement various written exam variants in corona-based absence mode.
Factsheet Written exam with WORD (in German)
Factsheet Evaluation in OLAT (in German)
Multiple Choice with OLAT
Examinations with multiple-choice answers, closed texts and short open answers make it possible to record a wide range of learning achievements with easy to implement evaluation. The randomized sequence of questions and answers as well as fixed time windows for answering minimize the possibility of fraud.
Open-ended questions can be combined with multiple choice questions. In particular, if students are asked to provide individual examples, the possibility of cheating can be minimized. however, this makes correction a little more time-consuming because open-ended answers have to be evaluated manually.
Tips for creating multiple-choice questions (in German)
Here we discuss different possibilities how to design exams. Exams should be able to demonstrate the increase in the students` competence as precisely as possible. According to the model of constructive alignment, teaching and learning methods, examination methods and learning objectives should be optimally coordinated.
A second goal of the exam design is to avoid attempts at fraud. Fraud attempts are usually the increase of illegal aids or cooperation with other people. The more the performance to be demonstrated consists of repeating rather than applying, the easier it is to share, and the more threatening the consequences of failure, the closer the seemingly saving straw of fraud.
Open Book Exams
Open book exams are a good alternative in the absence situation, if they are conducted as take-home exams and therefore no exam supervision is necessary. The changeover to such exams is associated with opportunities and challenges and sufficient time should be planned for the design.
Analyzing, not repeating
Questions and tasks that primarily require knowledge reproduction are not very meaningful for the verification of competencies in the case of exams conducted in absentia, since these are quickly compiled by copy-paste and test only the students`skills for digital organization, but not their achievement of the course objectives. A reformulation of the examination questions and tasks changes this situation: According to the taxonomy levels of learning (Bloom 1956; Anderson/Kratwohl 2001), questions and tasks should therefore not be formulated (remember & understand) at the first two levels, but rather, depending on the goal and level of the course, should aim at the more cognitively demanding activities (apply, analyze, evaluate, create). This requires a redesign of the examination questions and tasks as an exception during the corona crisis.
Example according to Bloom's taxonomy:
Remember: "List the hygiene measures proposed by the FOPH."
Understand: "Here are some current key numbers on the spread of the coronavirus in Europe. Based on these figures, describe in your own words the current state of the spread of the coronavirus in Europe."
Apply: "Here is information on the ratio between persons infected with the coronavirus and deceased in some countries. On the basis of this information, classify the measures of these countries in terms of the success of the measures taken there."
Analyze: "In a film you will see an interview with paramedics in Italy. What aspects/dimensions of stress are addressed in the interview?"
Synthesize: "Develop your own index with which you can measure the success of the measures taken by European countries."
Evaluate: "Number of people infected by coronavirus versus people dying of coronavirus; timing and strictness of the lockdown; situation of the health care system prior to the corona pandemic: Which of the three indicators do you think is suitable for assessing a country's effectiveness in combating coronavirus and which is not? Justify your answer."
If questions and tasks are passed on unchanged to several students in exams, fraud by exchanging answers appears rather likely. This is of course relatively easy in an absence situation with today's digital communication media. The problem lies in the uniformity of the questions, which can be eliminated by individualizing the questions and/or answers. Depending on the exam, one or the other approach may be appropriate.
Self-chosen example: Have your students explain the question using a self-chosen example. Even if the previous questions were answered in exchange with other students, each example will bring its own individual difficulties and necessities for adaptation. It must therefore be formulated, analyzed and transferred individually. This is where it becomes apparent whether the student has mastered the reviewed content on their own. This effect can be strengthened by recieving more points compared to the other answers. It is recommended to limit the scope of the answer so that students are informed about how extensive the answer must be.
Demonstrated derivation: Let your students explain their train of thought. Instead of simply describing the final result, it is now also necessary to explain why the question was approached in this way and not in another way. Depending on the type of exam, this derivation need not be given with each and every question, but with a select few.
Fraud attempts can also be made more difficult with technical measures, e.g. by sharing their screen on ZOOM, the filming of the exam environment or various software. All solutions have advantages and disadvantages. The Taskforce Teaching Center generally advises caution when using technical measures, since the more technical measures are used, the more difficult they are to implement, and fraud can never be completely avoided anyway.
In the case of off-site exams, students are necessarily responsible for creating a suitable environment for the exam themselves. This includes a quiet workplace and stable technical conditions such as the Internet and functioning, updated equipment and software, as well as a certain routine in using the equipment.
Important: Please make sure that you practice the exam scenario you want to use with your students at least one week before the day of the exam. Also, schedule at least 30 minutes immediately before the start of the exam to ensure all technical details of the exam are covered.
A good overview of technically monitored digital exams can be found in the blog of the Hochschulforum Digitalisierung on the topic of Online Proctoring - 6 recommendations (in German)
Camera panning via ZOOM
At the beginning of the exam students have to film the room with their camera in a ZOOM meeting. They need to show that there are no unauthorized aids and no other persons in the room. In oral exams this can be done immediately before the start of the exam, in exams with several students in a reasonable time before the start and possibly only randomly.
Side View with ZOOM
Students have to place the camera connected to ZOOM at their side, so they can see themselves and the screen on which they are working. The camera transmission remains throughout the entire exam. The sound must be switched on at the students computers to hear announcements of the exam supervisor. The students' microphone can be switched on or off: Either all sounds are transmitted directly to everyone (coughing, scratching noises, sirens, dogs barking, etc.), but also conversation in the room is prevented, or a quieter atmosphere is created for the time of the examination with the possibility of other people in the room giving tips.
Plagiarism Software: Turnitin
Using the plagiarism detection software Turnitin, students' work can be easily checked for plagiarism. The software checks freely accessible sources from the Internet (e.g. Wikipedia, Google Scholar), access restricted literature that is activated via the library (e.g. journals), and the works are compared with other works of students from other universities if they are in the general repository of Turnitin (e.g. with works from German universities), and finally the works within a course are compared with each other (i.e. if the students have exchanged solutions). The handling of the check is very simple, all papers can be uploaded together.
For a license please contact marco.antonini. Please discuss the licenses and the procedure with your faculty or department. It is possible that solutions and procedures already exist. @ unilu.ch
Factsheet Turnitin (in German)
Video tutorial for Turnitin (in German)
Declaration of Honesty
Students may be required to make a declaration that they will abide by the rules of the exam and be aware of the sanctions. However, this leads to a high administrative burden and possibly to unnecessary and additional sanctions. Whether with or without a declaration of honesty: attempted cheating is already regulated in the study and examination regulations and is still applied unchanged. A declaration of honesty is therefore a nudging towards honesty. Since nudging is desirable, but confirmation causes great problems, mere information without additional confirmation may also help. As in face-to-face situations, remind your students that attempted cheating will be punished according to the study and examination regulations and, in the worst case, can lead to exclusion from the course.
Any exams that are written open book and open internet in absence are prone to be written by a ghostwriter. This applies to all written papers, from first semester students` papers up to their doctoral thesis, independent of Corona. Ghostwriting is almost unprovable. Even plagiarism software will not help.
Due to the Corona situation, ghostwriting is now also an option for exams. It is hardly possible to guarantee that the submitted text was written by the right person. The Task Force Teaching Center recommends composure: although ghostwriting is possible, it will most likely occur only in the rarest cases, if at all. Should it be discovered, the sanctions are regulated in the respective study and examination regulations and are often drastic. Compared to this risk and the effort required for it, the profit does not seem attractive: Those who only want to reduce their own insecurity through ghostwriting must nevertheless make the full effort for a small improvement, at full risk. Those who would not be able to take the exam without ghostwriting will likely also fail the other exams for lack of competence.
However, a very good measure is widely practiced: A disputation is common for dissertations, the personal defense of one's own work, where a strong discrepancy between the thesis and the oral presentation should be noticeable. For bachelor and master theses, there are also written examinations and oral exams in which this discrepancy would be conspicuous. Similarly, a short oral explanation could be required for written examinations, by video recording or with a short additional oral examination in the style of a disputation. However, it is essential that this be legally clarified in advance.
May the pictures deposited in the RD by the students and used for issuing the Students`cards be used to verify the identity of the student during digital exams?
Answer: Since the students have given a picture of themselves (photo) to the University of Lucerne for the stated purpose of being used for issuing of the students`card, which serves to verify their identity (also in exam situations), the purpose of using it in digital examinations is still the same as the one to which they have consented.
Please refer to the website www.unilu.ch/zoom. This website will continue to be maintained and continuously updated.
Depending on how many functions you use in ZOOM, your Internet connection will be more or less loaded. As a general rule: If it is not necessary for your meeting, switch off the camera and microphone. If possible, connect to the Internet via cable.