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Remote Take-Home-Exam

A Remote Take Home exam is an exam that is conducted in a short time frame, but not bound by time or place. Students work on one or more complex assignments but unlike an online exam, students do not necessarily work on the tasks simultaneously. In contrast to homework, the time allotted for answering the questions is very limited (approximately 6-48 hours for a two-hour examination).

Time frame in which the exam can be completed Tightly limited (about 6-48 hours for a 2-hour exam)
Time to process the exam < Time frame
Group size up to appr. 60
Task / Assignment
  • Complex tasks / assignments with several possible individual solutions
  • Not suitable for checking factual knowledge, definitions etc.
Benefits
  • In this way, the impact of technical difficulties (e.g. problems with the Internet connection) can be minimized
  • Benefit for students with caregiving duties
  • Benefit for students with disabilities as it is easy to implement compensation for disadvantages
Challenges
  • Arrangements and cooperation between students is possible during processing the exam
  • The correction of the submissions (open-ended questions) is rather more complex and time-consuming.

Why does WU recommend switching to Remote Take Home exams whenever possible?

In the current situation, we would like to suggest that you switch to Remote Take Home exams as often as possible for the following reasons:

  • Flexible time frame: Students can take Remote Take Home exams throughout a flexible time frame. Since not all students have to be online at the same time, you minimize technical problems caused by a poor Internet connection during the exam. Moreover, as students only have to upload one or more files, no large bandwidth is required. This flexibility suits students with caregiving duties. Additionally, Remote Take Home exams allow easy adjustments for students with disabilities.
  • Simple technical solution: On the learning platform, Remote Take Home exams can be created quickly and easily. There, you can also collect student submissions and have them checked for plagiarism. Compared to written exams on MyLEARN, the effort for creating the exam is less time-consuming and students need less support.
  • In the current situation, all written examinations are unsupervised. In order to prevent cheating as much as possible, it is advisable to develop complex tasks that require individual solutions from each student. In combination with a tightly set time frame, which also limits the possibility of interchange among students, such complex assignments can be examined very well with a Remote Take Home exam.

When is a Remote Take Home exam particularly suitable?

Remote Take Home exams are suited to check whether students can apply, analyse, argue or evaluate. To test these skills, it is less relevant if students use reference materials while completing their tasks.

You should not query factual knowledge in a Remote Take Home exam, such as facts and definitions, as students can easily look them up, or simply "google".

How long does it take students to complete a Remote Take Home exam?

When planning the time frame, it is important to consider how great the danger of cheating is for the assignment in question. If the required answer to the task is highly individual, the allocated time frame for the completion can be longer (as there is less benefit in exchanging information with other students).

We recommend to plan the examination in such a way that it can be nicely completed by the students in the time you initially allocated for the classroom setting (e.g. 2 hours). You should adjust the time frame in which the exam can be taken according to the type of task:

  • If the tasks require students to present individual solutions (essays, own proposed solutions, etc.), it is advisable to extend the time frame to at least 24 hours as you should take the current situation into account (caregiving duties, poor Internet connection, etc.).
  • If the assignment consists of open-ended questions similar to a face-to-face exam in the classroom, students could benefit when cooperating with colleagues. Hence, a shorter time frame is necessary to make cheating more difficult.
  • For tasks with only one correct solution, an online exam on MyLEARN is more suitable. Since all students take the exam at the same time, the interchange between students is made more difficult.

Which questions are suitable for Remote Take Home exams?

When assigning Remote Take Home exams you must consider that the cooperation among students cannot be excluded completely and that students are able to use various supporting documents. Hence, you should ask questions where students

  • need to apply acquired knowledge
  • analyse facts and circumstances
  • compare situations
  • evaluate facts or
  • need to develop new solutions for problems.

Questions that require students to reproduce knowledge are usually not effective in Remote Take Home exams. Under the point "Formulating Learning Outcomes" in the Teaching & Learning Academy you can find more information on how to ask questions in such a way that it is possible to examine learning objectives of higher levels.

The following tasks work well when using Remote Take Home exams. Depending on how extensive the tasks are, Remote Take Home exams may consist of one or more of these tasks:

  • Rectifying an incorrect statement with the reference to literature
  • Finding personal examples regarding specific concepts / matters
  • Applying a certain concept to a concrete situation
  • Explain why X is an example of process Y
  • Argue what a policy for problem X should look like
  • Describe a specific case including possible solutions, arguing why the chosen solution is the best.

As starting point for the questions, you can for example use short summarized texts related to a specific issue. Accordingly, questions about business case studies, concrete legal cases, programming tasks or translation assignments are suitable as well.

How can tasks be designed?

Formulate tasks in a detailed, clear and comprehensible manner.

When students are asked to write longer answers (1-2 pages) it is particularly helpful to provide a minimal structure already by formulating sub-questions, as is the case in the following two examples.

Examples

1) A simple supply and demand diagram is shown above. [Note: Illustration not included]

Is this an economic model as defined by M.S. Morgan?

  • First, use the text to explain how Morgan defines an economic model.
  • Then argue in your own words why the above diagram does or does not represent a model in Morgan's sense.
  • 1 - 1.5 pages

2) Using the texts discussed, explain in detail how law functions as "law in action".
Then, considering your own explanation, critically comment on whether vigilante justice can offer an effective and constitutional alternative to the legally organized enforcement procedure. (approx. 3 pages)

Source: https://www.uni-erfurt.de/fileadmin/user-docs/Institutionenoekonomie/Fritzsch_Excel/Nachklausur_Aufgabenstellung.pdf

In both examples, students have to evaluate a subject based on discussed literature.

  • The shorter the time frame for processing, the more extensive the students need to deal with the text in preparation for the exam. In a short time frame, the tasks resemble openended questions in an exam.
  • If you chose to set a longer time frame, students have the time to read and work through the text within the exam time. In this case, the tasks are similar to classic homework.

How can cheating be prevented?

  • Limit time frames: The shorter the time frame in which assignments have to be completed, the less time there is for students to exchange ideas with others. Hence, if you do not want students to make full use of this opportunity, you should choose a shorter time frame. If you want to (almost) completely eliminate the possibility of interchange, it is advisable to create an exam at a fixed date on MyLEARN.
  • Complex tasks: Minimize the risk of students copying answers from each other by focusing on arguing a certain position and having them formulate answers in their own words. For example, complex questions that require the comparison of several facts are difficult to "google".
  • Use the plagiarism check: It is essential that you use the plagiarism check for submissions on MyLEARN as well as announcing to the students beforehand that all their submissions will be compared with each other and that identical text passages will be recognized (to activate the plagiarism check see the MyLEARN-Guide under the heading "Student submissions"). In addition, please inform the students in advance about the consequences of plagiarism (see Plagiarism Guidelines), which apply equally to distance learning.
    Please bear in mind that the check for plagiarism is particularly recommended for questions which require an individual solution. The percentage alone is not a sign of students plagiarizing or copying from each other and needs interpretation by the teaching staff.
  • Demand an examination statement: Appeal to the honesty of students in this exceptional situation. Another possibility is to have students sign an "examination statement" in advance. You can find a template for an examination statement to download HERE. The examination statement is available in word-format in order to allow you to adapt the text according to the requirements of your remote take-home-exam (e.g. material which can be used, possibility to work in teams etc.). There are two options to make the document available for signature:
    • Students upload the signed document (as a foto / scan or with their digital signature copied in) when they submit their exam. This option is recommended for courses with a low number of participants. 
    • You provide the examination statement as an exercise in your online exam environment. Students have to check the boxes and thereby declare that they conform with the examination statement before they submit their exam. If you want to use this option, please refer to distanzpruefung@wu.ac.at, indicating the title of your course, the course number and the link to your course on MyLEARN.
  • Carry out short interviews after submission: For smaller courses, you have the possibility to combine the submission of assignments with a short discussion. This allows you to check randomly whether students have worked on their tasks on their own.

Where can I collect the students' results?

For Remote Take Home exams, it is recommended to collect submissions in an "open work order" on MyLEARN. This allows you to subject the work to a plagiarism check.

Proceed as follows:

  1. Create an open work order on MyLEARN in your course and define it as a task (see MyLEARN-Guide). The work order will then appear in the to-do list of students.
  2. As soon as the students have uploaded their files, you can activate the plagiarism check (see MyLEARN-Guide).

How can correction be simplified?

One problem with examining learning objectives of a higher order is that this is best done with open-ended questions - which leads to a considerable correction effort, especially for larger groups. The preparation of a sample solution or rubrics helps to minimize the effort. If several people correct the exam, these measures can reduce subjectivity.

What information do students need?

Let your students know in advance what you expect of them - Remote Take Home exams are new to students as well. Hence, it is helpful to predefine as much as possible.

  • How comprehensive must the answers be? (Specify number of words)
  • When and where must the exam be handed in?
  • In what form do you expect students to refer to literature in their answers?
  • Are students allowed to cooperate?
  • Should supporting documents be used? If so, which ones?