Contrasting Traditional In-Class Exams with Frequent Online Testing

Mary L Still, Jeremiah D Still


Although there are clear practical benefits to using online exams compared to in-class exams (e.g., reduced cost, increased scalability, flexible scheduling), the results of previous studies provide mixed evidence for the effectiveness of online testing. This uncertainty may discourage instructors from using online testing. To further investigate the effectiveness of online exams in a naturalistic situation, we compared student learning outcomes associated with traditional in-class exams compared to frequent online exams. Online exams were administered more frequently in an attempt to mitigate potential negative effects associated with open-book testing. All students completed in-class and online exams with order of testing condition (in-class first, or online first) counterbalanced between students. We found no difference in long-term retention for material that had originally been tested using frequent online or traditional in-class exams and no difference in self-reported study time. Overall, our results suggest that frequent online assessments do not harm student learning in comparison to traditional in-class exams and may impart positive subjective outcomes for students. 


Computerized Assessment; Frequent Testing; Online Assessment

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