Monday, April 25, 2011

Using technology for the final exam?

    I’ve been thinking about how to give my final exam this year.  Traditionally I have half multiple choice for vocabulary/grammar and half essay.  I’m not a big fan of multiple choice, but it does the job when I need to quickly assess (and there is often not much time between when I give the final exam and when grades must be submitted). For midterms and finals, I like to have part objective (multiple choice) and part essay to accommodate students with varying strengths. 
exam testphoto © 2010 Sean MacEntee | more info (via: Wylio)

    Creating a multiple choice test on Moodle is incredibly time-consuming, so I just don’t see the value in that for one or two tests a year.  (Ordinarily, I have students demonstrate they know how to use vocabulary words by writing original sentences using the words; this is more time-consuming to grade, but is an assessment tied directly to the learning.  )

    It’s the essay that I’d like to computerize.  Alternatives include: 

  • Write in Word and print out. 
  • Reply to a Moodle Q & A prompt, which hides students’ work from each other.  (Many students write first in Word, then copy into Moodle).

    One consideration:  I’m required to have exam papers for any parents/students/principals who want to see the grading, so all papers need to be hard copies.  This makes Word a better deal. 

    It’s hard, though, to keep an eye on the 25 computers in the computer lab simultaneously (we used to have Vision software but it never worked correctly with our network, so I’m supervising the old-fashioned way).  I can use assigned seating to minimize copying, and deliberately isolate students who have cheated in the past. 

    Is it worth it?  To have work I can read easily is terrific.  Even better, most of my students are accustomed to writing at a computer, and do better when they can edit at a keyboard. 

    I think I’m going to ask my students what they think. 


  1. Hi Fran,
    As you may know there are many Plugins you can add to Moodle to assess written work. Some I have looked at are:

  2. John - I swore I replied to you here, but I don't see it. Thanks for sharing!