Vetmed Uni Vienna – Sophisticated Quality Management Through Digital Exam
About the University of Veterinary Medicine in ViennaThe University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna in Austria is one of the leading academic and research institutions in the field of Veterinary Sciences in Europe. Its main focus is on research into animal health, food safety, animal husbandry and animal welfare and their biomedical basis. Its campus in the Florisdorf district of Vienna has five university clinics and a large number of research facilities. Two research institutes, in Wilhelminenberg in Vienna and a teaching and research facility in Lower Austria also form part of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna.
Press release by Vetmed Uni Vienna on the Integration of the Q-Exam System into the faculty’s courses
You can read the University’s original press release HERE.
Increasingly, laptop and a mouse are replacing exam paper and pen for students taking major examinations. Computer-controlled exam platforms allow far more than simple multiple choice tests. They are also simplifying the administration, creation, and evaluation of exams. The Vetmed Uni Vienna has been using one of these systems, Q-Exam, since 2014. While larger exams are written with the hardware provision of the service provider IQUL, smaller exams are now carried out in the University’s own computer lab. The extent to which these systems have successfully established themselves is demonstrated by the fact that the 500,000th individual examination run by IQUL was taken today at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna. “Please pick up your pens and turn over your papers.” It is becoming increasingly rare for students to hear this phrase before starting their exams. Austria’s institutions of higher education are increasingly relying on digital examination platforms for major exams. Behind the systems, such as Q-Exam by the German startup, IQUL, lies a computer-controlled administration structure, that supports the exam process from the initial collection of the questions, through to the composition of the paper, and the final marking and statistical evaluation of the papers.
The University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, has been using the Q-Exam platform since 2014. In her capacity as Vice-Rector for Student Affairs and Clinical Veterinary Medicine, the acting Rector, Dr. Petra Winter, migrated exams into the computer-supported system, starting with major exams before moving on to smaller papers. These are managed by employees of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, without hardware support from IQUL in the University’s own E-Learning Center, though specialist technical support is provided.
Increased quality via feedback loopsThis allows the actual benefit of the platform, namely the ability to unify the process of administering questions and controlling them for quality, to be realized. Lecturers can enter their questions into the system at any time. These are then controlled on the “six-eye principle,” with three layers of quality control, as Winter emphasizes: "Every system, however good it might be, is dependent on human quality control." After formal review by the Vice-Rectory, there is a specialist review by colleagues from within the lecturer’s own organizational unit followed by a second review, which focuses on the content. "This not only enhances the standards of quality and fairness; it also encourages transparency and interdisciplinary cooperation," she explains.
Feedback from both colleagues and students is forwarded to the authors of the questions and is incorporated into the ongoing process of evaluating the questions, resulting in a flexible and iterative digital question archive. These feedback loops ensure that the content of the exams improves over time.
More than just multiple choice – skills-oriented learning for veterinary practiceThese exams are built on more than just multiple-choice questions. Questions can be asked on passages of text or images, with the high-resolution images clearly lending itself to questions on X-rays or histological sections. A decisive benefit also becomes apparent with "Key Feature” questions, which were newly introduced this year at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna. These address case studies from diagnosis, through to explaining the symptoms, concluding with identifying the necessary therapeutic steps. Key Feature questions examine procedural knowledge and reflect the realities of everyday veterinary practice. Students must answer three questions that follow on from one another; only once one question is answered is the next one disclosed to them. This ensures that the content of the question is always aligned with the correct answer to the first question. This process would be impossible to implement in paper form.
Increased fairness, faster results, and statistical analysisThe overall effect of computer-aided examinations is to offer students a very neutral and fair examination system. Feedback loops mean that they are effectively incorporated into a process of continuous development and improvement. The time factor is another benefit, as results can be available after just a few hours. Examinations are marked either by computer or by authors of the questions themselves, who then receive the answers anonymously for marking purposes.
The use of computers to process exams allows accurate statistics can be generated, which can be useful in assessing the standards of teaching and examinations. This is reflected in the concept of the service provider, IQUL, which aims to make a contribution to improving standards of teaching in universities as a result of the feedback loops and statistical analyses that it allows.