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Posted by John Kleeman

Last week I co-presented at the eLearning in Health Conference 2011 with Dr Donald Thomson (Consultant in Dental and Maxillofacial Radiography) and Dr David Walker (Senior Learning Technologist) from Dundee University. Since the conference was sold out and there was a lot of interest in our story, I thought I’d share it here.
The University of Dundee is an established user of Questionmark software and has been using Questionmark Perception for the delivery of dental radiology exams in place of pen and paper since 2009.
Dundee switched from paper to electronic exams for a number of reasons. Two obvious drivers were the desire to remove subjectivity in scoring and to reduce time spent marking in order to provide greater support to students. Another was that with on-screen delivery, radiology pictures can be faithfully represented on computers.
For example, this is a line drawing from a past paper exam:

Line drawing used in paper exam

And here is a real radiology picture that’s been displayed in a computerized exam. It’s easy to read something like this on-screen but quite difficult to do so on ordinary paper.

Real radiology photo

Below is a summary of Dundee’s experience using Questionmark to deliver electronic exams in Dental Radiology:

  • Initial time to convert questions to format suitable for electronic delivery is significant – support from learning technology professionals crucial.
  • Significant time saved marking papers with ability to return results to students more quickly.
  • Question types needed adjusting – free text and drawing questions needed to be redesigned but drag-and-drop questions offered new possibilities.
  • Initial concerns were raised regarding comparability of test difficulty between paper/electronic formats but analysis of student performance and question statistics information provided by Questionmark indicates that the exams are fair/reliable.
  • Electronic delivery has allowed for simultaneous presentation of exams at different locations, in this case for Dental students undertaking a degree at the University of Aberdeen.

Now that knowledge exams are successfully computerized, the University of Dundee is exploring the potential of electronic observational exams (OSCEs).  I’ll talk about the possibilities in a follow-up post next week.