MAASTRICHT. To improve the quality of exams, the School of Business and Economics (SBE) has come up with a novel measure: before students sit an exam, the tutor who developed it should first have a fellow tutor take the exam. Depending on the mark obtained, the exam questions will then be critically evaluated.
“I don’t expect tutors to surrender their phone and be shut in a room for three hours”, says Rudolf Müller, portfolio holder for education at SBE. “I’m assuming they’ll work faster than students. But if a tutor does take a full three hours, then the students will certainly struggle.”
The new arrangement is designed to catch not only typos but also ambiguities in the formulation of questions. It’s not an obligation, according to Müller, but rather a guideline. “It’s not our intention to control or punish staff, but we will be keeping a close eye on any complaints or incidents that arise from exams. What we’re seeing more and more is that minor errors cause a major fuss among students. Rightly or wrongly, this takes a great deal of time to deal with: answering students’ questions, handling objections, you name it. So I think the new measure will be less a burden than a relief.”
The ‘tutor exam’ is part of a suite of measures that also includes, for instance, the ‘four-eyes principle’ implemented previously. The idea behind this principle is that of a colleague-observer, now not just in the first two years but also in the third year of the bachelor’s curricula. In addition, in the future all exams will be evaluated by students and tutors will be discouraged from recycling old exam questions.
With respect to the first-year courses, the board is taking things even further. The tutors are required to indicate to what extent exam questions align with the learning objectives of the relevant course. “These descriptions are being entered into a digital workflow system, together with the exam itself, the answer key, any related objections and so forth”, says Müller.