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In 2021, Nuffield Oxford Hospitals Fund (NOHF) provided funding to purchase 36 additional chromebooks, helping to ensure that all medical students in a year group are able to sit an examination in a single sitting.

Chromebooks on desks in the pop up assessment space in the Examination School
Chromebooks on desks, just after the year 5 medical students had left, having finished the first of their 2 x 2hour exams on 1 July 2022.

Written by Damion Young, Learning Technologies Team, Medical Sciences Division

The NOHF kindly provided funding to add 36 to our existing set of 35 Chromebooks, along with associated charging/storage. These were to allow us, in combination with 130 Chromebooks generously lent by the Department of Biology, to examine all medical students (up to c.180) in a year group, in a single sitting, in Examination Schools. This:

  • avoids the limitations of the IT suites in the Medical Sciences Teaching Centre, where we have traditionally delivered these online exams: quarantining between sittings (max. 87 students in one sitting) and room availability, particularly at the end of Trinity Term.
  • means that computer-based exams can be sat where all other exams are managed, making the most of the dedicated facilities at Exam Schools.

We began piloting computer-based exams in Exam Schools in March and April 2022, with first 60 and then 100 students from the Department of Experimental Psychology. These were the first whole-cohort computer-based exams to be run in Exam Schools and allowed us to hone our setup and processes for Wi-Fi, Chromebooks, invigilation, etc.

At the end of Trinity Term (27 June and 1 July 2022), we successfully ran 2 x 2 hour papers for each of the year 4 and year 5 medical student cohorts, in South School, with only one sitting per paper. By working closely with the very helpful Examinations and Assessments team, we have ensured that the lessons learnt have fed into current work to roll out computer-based typed exams to subjects across the University.

Going forward, we expect the majority of medical school exams, whether essay-style or single best answer, to be delivered on Chromebooks, and at Examination Schools. Our set of NOHF Chromebooks will continue to be used heavily for teaching and for smaller-scale and/or formative assessment, as well as in OSCEs.