T. Rajala, E. Lokkila, R. Lindén, M.J. Laakso

University of Turku (FINLAND)
We collected student feedback on answering to electronic exams from two consecutive first year programming courses. The first course introduced students the basic concepts of imperative programming including sequence, selection and repetition, writing subprograms and using basic data structures including arrays and lists. The topic of the second course was object oriented programming. The programming language used in both courses was Java.

An anonymous learning platform was utilized throughout both of the programming courses and also in arranging the electronic exams. Each week of both courses consisted of one lecture and one tutorial session where students answered to programming assignments provided in the learning platform in collaboration with another student. Students had to attend at least five of the seven tutorial sessions and they had to complete at least half of the assignments. Thus before the electronic exams each student should have been familiar with using the platform and answering to the various types of assignments.

The electronic exam survey was the last task in both courses’ exams and it included questions concerning the technical quality of the platform, usability issues, how well suited the electronic form was for the subject, did the students prefer electronic form over pen-and-paper, and would they recommend the platform to other students. These were answered in the scale of 1 to 5. Additionally, the survey included three open answer questions on what the students found best about taking an exam in the platform, how they would like the system to be improved or did they face any technical problems and on what other subjects they thought electronic exams would be viable to use in. In the first course 134 students answered to the survey and in the second one 105.

Quick analysis of the survey data indicates that the students in general had very positive attitude towards the electronic exam and practically all of them preferred the electronic form over pen-and-paper. Student answers also seem to be more positive in the second course’s survey. Most of the students who took part in the first course also participated the second one, so the extended exposure to the platform might be one reason for the more positive attitudes. The final paper, if accepted, will include a thorough analysis of the numerical survey data and open answers and a discussion on the various issues related to arranging electronic exams particularly in large introductory courses.