Computerised exams on the button

February 24, 1995

Further to your article, "Results at the press of a button", by Olga Wojtas (THES, January ). I am writing to inform you that the University of Luton was, in fact, one of the first universities to use formal computer assessments for end of module exams - last June.

The system is centred around Question Mark Designer for Windows and there are three main components to the software - one for creating the tests, one for delivering the tests and one for analysing the answers. The tests were presented to students across the university network and, as with the tests at Heriot-Watt University, the results were available at the press of a button.

More than 150 psychology students took part in the trial. They were made aware of the technology before the actual exam date and were able to become proficient in using the system by practising with taster questions. The results of the trial were extremely encouraging, both in terms of the academic results and the student reaction to computerised examinations. The Spielberger State Trait Anxiety test was administered to the students prior to the formal exam and immediately afterwards in conjunction with a questionnaire concerning their reaction. The detailed feedback showed that the great majority of students felt very positively about the experience.

Subsequently, last September a diagnostic mathematics test was taken by first-year students in the faculty of design and technology. And this month more than 700 students underwent computerised assessment in the management of resource allocation, understanding government, and cognitive psychology. An article is due to be published in the British Journal of Education and Technology based on this experience.

The University of Luton looks forward to expanding the student experience to all faculties this summer.

Stan Zakrzewski

Computer adviser and assessment

system designer

University of Luton

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