Mark of achievement by SBMS Student Services team for end of semester exams

26 Jul 2016
SBMS Student Services team members (l to r) Bridgette Norris, Janet Gray, Bacsweet Kaur and Line Pitt.

SBMS is one of the largest teaching schools at the University and is responsible for preparing, marking and grading some 5,000 exam papers each semester.

Despite the massive task involved, the School’s Student Services team have streamlined the procedure for dealing with the exam scripts, so that the papers can be efficiently processed in the three weeks between the start of the examination period and the release of results.

The first step in the examination processes is preparing the exam papers and the Semester 1 UQ exam report showed the SBMS papers had once again been prepared without a single error. After an exam has taken place, all the papers are forwarded to, or collected by, the SBMS team. The papers are then put into alphabetical order and student names are checked-off against a class marking list and the papers are counted to double-check the totals received against totals provided by UQ Examinations.

Next comes the task of decollating each of the 24-36 page exam papers into an average of five sections for marking. The academic staff in the School and associated research institutes then undertake the huge task of marking the students’ examination scripts. When the marking process is complete, the theory and practical exam marks are double data entered into the course EOS workbook to protect against data errors, mcq results imported, and sent to the course coordinator for checking. Once checked, the course final sign-off reports are run.

The course coordinator then attends the course examiners meeting with the School’s Assessment Committee (chaired by the Chief Examiner) to discuss the final grades for the students in their course, any issues that may have arisen for any particular students, and give final grade approval. Student grades then have to be uploaded into SiNet by a strict deadline in order to meet University student grade release dates.

Chair of SBMS Teaching and Learning Committee and Chief Examiner, Associate Professor Lesley Lluka, has recently joined a strategic committee which is investigating the use of electronic exams.

She said the possibility had been discussed of undertaking a short trial of electronic examination software in Semester 2, 2016 to identify potential problems.

“The idea was put forward by Dr Tammy Smith who is the coordinator of a School of Medicine course into which SBMS teaches,” A/Professor Lluka said.

“As students do most of their university work electronically, they take lecture notes on laptops and we don’t accept hand written assignments, the strategic committee felt it was logical to consider electronic exams.”

A/Professor Lluka said the committee agreed the biggest issue surrounding electronic exams was security.

 “Students will still have to come to the University to sit an electronic exam, they will not be able to do it from home,” she said.

“UQ place a great deal of importance on having assessment where you can actually identify the person who is undertaking it.

“We also need to be very sure that students have no access to the internet while the exam is taking place.

“The software being considered for possible trial is designed to stop students having access to anything else on their computers as soon as they log into the electronic exam.”

A/Professor Lluka said the introduction of electronic exams at UQ was still in very early stage consideration and would be subject to rigorous testing and cost effectiveness evaluation by the strategic committee.