Bonham - PRST-PER 2008

Reliability, compliance, and security in web-based course assessments
Phys. Rev. ST Physics Ed. Research 4, 010106

Scott Bonham

Pre- and postcourse assessment has become a very important tool for education research in physics and other areas. The web offers an attractive alternative to in-class paper administration, but concerns about web-based administration include reliability due to changes in medium, student compliance rates, and test security, both question leakage and utilization of web resources. An investigation was carried out in introductory astronomy courses comparing pre- and postcourse administration of assessments using the web and on paper. Overall no difference was seen in performance due to the medium. Compliance rates fluctuated greatly, and factors that seemed to produce higher rates are identified. Notably, email reminders increased compliance by 20%. Most of the 559 students complied with requests to not copy, print, or save questions nor use web resources; about 1% did copy some question text and around 2% frequently used other windows or applications while completing the assessment.