With 24,000 students from over 80 countries, Birmingham
City University (BCU) has grown over the years to become
one of England’s leading universities. The School of
Nursing and Midwifery is one of the primary sources of
employees for the NHS. The school provides a dynamic and
forward-thinking learning environment, supported by more
than 100 qualified and expert academic staff.
The School of Nursing and Midwifery began looking at
online assessment in 2015, a move motivated by various
considerations. Paper-based exams did not facilitate the
increasing number of students with disabilities, and
computer-based assessment would better suit their needs
when sitting exams. Streamlining the management of
questions, the generation of exam papers and making the
marking process quicker and easier-to-manage was a
priority. When selecting a supplier of online assessment
software, it was therefore crucial that the application
was easy-to-use for students of all abilities, with a
clean and intuitive interface. The solution would also
need advanced functionality for authoring and managing
questions, test assembly, marking and moderation.
TestReach was chosen by BCU midwifery department as their
supplier of online assessment software, as it provided all
the features required for question authoring, test
assembly, exam delivery, marking, moderation and reports.
Its modern, accessible and clean interface was easy for
all candidates to use.
TestReach was initially used for neonatal exams, taken by
students studying the BSc (Hons) in Midwifery. These
2-hour exams are run online at test centres on campus
using a mix of multiple choice and short form text
answers. About 50% of the paper is auto-scorable, and
other questions requiring manual marking are automatically
routed to a range of individual markers to score.
Post-exam evaluations are run in order to gauge student
reaction to sitting their exams on TestReach.
The department were delighted to see that the midwifery
students found TestReach easy-to-use in practice,
particularly welcoming the opportunity to sit their exam
in a familiar online environment.
The department has benefited from the ease and speed of
marking the final papers. With automated workflows for
multiple markers, questions can be easily routed to
individual markers, who are given passwords to access the
relevant section of the paper. All activity is fully
audit-trailed. The mark schema and marking guidelines are
available on screen alongside the students’ answers, so
markers can easily allocate the correct marks in a
standardised fashion as they work through the papers.
Tools provided by TestReach facilitate speedy results’
moderation across a cohort of candidates, turning a
time-consuming and difficult job into something
straightforward. By adjusting marks granted for certain
questions, the impact on the overall pass rate is
immediately displayed on colour-coded charts.
The department welcomed the ability to view clear data and
reports on question efficacy. The range of statistical
information provided on results data enabled the team to
determine the effectiveness of tests, test items and
question distractors, providing all the data needed to
improve the quality and accuracy of questions over time.
“It is so quick to do the marking and moderation of
results, and this has been a huge advantage to us. I also
like viewing the detailed breakdown of statistics on
questions and I can easily see if a particular question
isn’t performing well,” said Natasha Carr, Senior
Midwifery Lecturer at Birmingham City University. “It’s a
very positive experience working with TestReach. The
services team are easy to get hold of and the
communication is great.”
“We are now looking at expanding our use of TestReach to
incorporate other topics, and we’re in a good position to
explore using online assessment for other courses and exam
types,” she added.
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