Procedure for quality assurance of exams – University of Copenhagen

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Procedure for quality assurance of exams

This procedure covers all study programmes in the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Responsibility

The heads of studies, study boards and programme administrations have responsibility for the planning and conduct of exams in the Faculty of Social Sciences, including ensuring that they are held in accordance with the current rules (see note 1) and curricula. The assessors are responsible for running the exams.

The director of studies is responsible for the quality assurance of the departments’ rules and practice concerning exams.

Exam plans, registration and withdrawal

The programme administrations draw up plans for both ordinary exams and resits. The plans are submitted for consultation with relevant employees and approved by the study board/head of studies. The final plans are approved by the study board/head of studies no later than 1 October/1 April. After this date, they may only be changed in extraordinary circumstances (see note 2).

Registration for courses entails automatic registration for exams on all study programmes in the Faculty of Social Sciences (see note 3). The deadlines for registering for courses, and therefore also for automatic exam registration, are as per the University of Copenhagen’s deadlines. Students who have postponed an exam or are taking a resit must register for it separately.

Registration for the autumn semester is from 15 May until 1 June. Registration for the spring semester is from 15 November to 1 December. Students are informed of the deadlines by their programme administration and via the faculty (Faculty of Social Science Information). They are also informed of the rules for course registration, withdrawal from exams and registration for resits.

The individual departments are responsible for informing their students about both the general rules and the specific rules and requirements relating to exams. The general rules, including for registration and withdrawal, are described on the department websites. The specific rules and requirements for individual exams are shown in the course catalogues.

One week before the registration period (at the latest), the respective study boards must approve the range of courses and exams and make them available to students in the course catalogue.

Some departments have a formalised process for late registration, which is valid for a certain period of time. Others have a more informal process that does not have a fixed deadline, but is determined by course capacity, etc. In these situations, exam registration is also automatic when students enrol for a course.

The deadlines for withdrawal from exams differ from course to course depending on the exam date, etc. The deadlines for withdrawal and the exam dates are published on KUnet at the same time.

Both the general and specific exam rules and requirements are systematically reviewed every semester, and updated no later than the start of the registration period.

When students register for courses via the self-service module in STADS, they are also, as previously mentioned, automatically registered for the appropriate exam(s). Depending on the student’s choice of courses, in some cases it may be necessary for the programme administrations to manually register students for the correct exams. When this happens, it is usually due to course elements that involve multiple exams. However, the students themselves will not notice the difference, as the registration is done on their behalf.

External students, e.g. credit-transfer and exchange students, cannot register for courses via the self-service section of STADS. Instead, they must register via a form sent by post or e-mail to the programme administration. The programme administration then registers the student concerned for the course and exam.

In some cases, more than one exam form may be linked to the same exam registration. In this situation, the student has the opportunity – via self-service – to choose (or change) an exam from the available options.

In four departments, students can withdraw from exams via self-service. If the student (only) withdraws their course registration, withdrawal from the exam(s) is not automatic. However, the student will automatically be notified of the late registration process. In one department, withdrawal of registration takes the form of the student sending an e-mail to the exam administration.

The programme administration conducts compliance control for all exam registrations. The purpose of compliance control is to check that the students are eligible to sit the exam(s) for which they are registered. Compliance control is conducted early enough to allow sufficient time for action to be taken if a registration is rejected, but not before all exam grades from the previous exam period have been entered into STADS. If the registration is rejected for technical reasons and can be addressed by the programme administration without the student’s involvement, the programme administration corrects the error. If the rejection is not due to a technical problem, the programme administration contacts the student concerned so he or she can correct their registration(s) or apply for the necessary exemption. It is not possible to sit an exam based on a registration that is rejected during the compliance control.

Quality assurance of assignments for written exams and take-home exams/substitute papers

The academic responsibility for the exam assignment normally lies with the course lecturer. The written set of assignments is submitted to the exam administration by a fixed date in plenty of time before the exam concerned. The exam administration, in collaboration with the head of studies, makes sure that the deadline is respected.

With regard to take-home exams/substitute papers, the lecturers concerned set the frameworks for the assignments. If necessary, the head of studies is also involved. The parameters for the assignment must form the basis for assessing adequate mastery of the syllabus and meeting the academic objectives.

In one department, the rules state that the assignment is checked and discussed with colleagues (if any) to make sure that the exam assignment complies with the objectives described in the curriculum. If grading instructions are required, they are provided at the same time. The chairs of the external examiners, the head of studies and the member of staff responsible in the exam administration meet and evaluate whether assignments are acceptable, or if anything needs to be corrected or adjusted.

Conduct of written exams

Students usually sit written invigilated exams on computers at the Peter Bangsvej facility. See http://pc-exam.ku.dk/. At the start of the exam, students complete a log-in procedure that allows them to access the exam assignment. Answers are submitted in a special “examination doc”. The document is submitted online at the end of the exam. Students also get to send a copy of their answers (in PDF) to their University of Copenhagen e-mail addresses.

For written exams, the head or deputy head of the invigilators must always be present. If questions arise that the head of studies is unable to answer, he or she contacts the exam administration. For content questions, e.g. errors in the assignment, the exam administration contacts the lecturer. A member of staff must therefore always be present in the examination administration when exams are being held. Similarly, the exam administration must know how to contact the lecturer, e.g. by telephone. Administrative questions are dealt with by the relevant member of staff in the exam administration.

In most departments, take-home exams/term papers are found in Absalon course rooms. The programme administration ensures that the assignment is available at the start of the exam. Access to Absalon is monitored at the start of the exam. In the event of a fault with Absalon, the assignment is made available to students via other channels (alternative download link/e-mail). Students upload their answers to Absalon or submit in hard copy.

However, some departments do not allow substitute papers and essays to be submitted via Absalon.

Conduct of oral exams

Oral exams are planned by the exam administration and conducted by the lecturer and external examiner. For oral exams, the students receive a written question or topic at the start of either the preparation period or the exam. The lecturer formulates the question or subject, and is responsible for ensuring that it corresponds to the syllabus and provides an appropriate basis for a comprehensive evaluation of the student’s mastery of the syllabus and fulfilment of the academic objectives.

A synopsis exam takes the form of an individual oral examination based on a written paper (synopsis). The exam also includes a wider discussion, as the examiner is required to assess the student in relation to the whole syllabus. In Psychology, the synopsis exam is included in the final grade, with the written and oral exams weighted at 1/3 and 2/3, respectively. On the other study programmes, the assessment is based solely on the oral performance – the synopsis is not included.

Conduct of exams under special conditions (special needs)

Where deemed necessary by the University, special exam conditions may be arranged for students with physical or mental disabilities or for students whose native language is not Danish. However, such provisions must not adversely affect the standard of the exam. Students may, for example, be granted an exemption to spend more time on the assignment or to use special computer equipment. Students must submit applications for exemptions to their departments in advance of every exam. In the case of a permanent condition, e.g. dyslexia, they only need to submit documentation once. However, if the student concerned continues on to the master’s programme, he or she must resubmit it.

When the programme administration grants an exemption, it informs whoever is responsible for the conduct of the exam, and the exemption is subsequently taken into account.

Grading

As per the rules in the Exam Order, a minimum of 1/3 of the exams in the Faculty of Social Sciences are external, i.e. they involve external examiners appointed by the Danish Agency for Universities and Internationalisation. The chairs of the corps of external examiners assign the individual examiners, following consultation with the departments. Before each exam period, the departments make sure that the assigned external examiners receive information about the date and venue and other relevant material.

The external examiners are responsible for ensuring that the content of the exam is aligned with the objectives and other requirements set for the study programme, including in the Programme Order and the curriculum. They are also responsible for ensuring that the exams are conducted in a way that complies with the rules, that the students are treated equally and fairly, and that their performances are reliably assessed, as per the rules set out in the Grading Order, in the curriculum and any other rules for the study programme (see note 4).

The chairs of the external examiners conduct systematic evaluations of all external exams. At exam time, the departments provide evaluation forms to all of the external examiners and ensure that the completed forms are forwarded to the chairs of the external examiners.

Based on the evaluation forms, exam complaints, appeals, etc., the chairs of the external examiners draw up an annual report, which is discussed with the heads of studies at the annual meetings. Since 2013, the annual reports from the various chairs of the external examiners have been published on the Faculty of Social Sciences website.

Results of written exams

The exam administration sends the exam protocols to the examiners before the exam. The examiners sign the protocols and return them after the exam.

All exam results are entered twice, by two different people in the programme administration. The purpose of this is to ensure that any errors made the first time are spotted and corrected. All exam results are subjected to compliance control. The programme administration deals with any rejected results.

Results of oral exams

The exam administration sends the exam protocols to the examiners before the exam. Oral exams are assessed immediately afterwards, and the student is informed of the grade. The assessors also record the result in the exam protocol, which is returned to the department’s programme administration immediately after the exam.

Results for active class participation

This form of exam involves the lecturer/assessor submitting an assessment in writing to the department’s exam staff at the end of the class, so that it can be registered in STADS.

Publication

Students can view their exam results via the self-service section on KUnet by the deadline set in the exam plan, but no later than four weeks after the exam.

Suspected attempt at exam cheating

The faculty has drawn up a procedure for suspected cheating in exams. The procedure explains what happens if cheating is suspected during a written exam. It also outlines procedures for examiners if they suspect cheating while they are assessing an exam assignment.

Note 1: Ministerial Order no. 814 of 29 June 2010 on Bachelor’s and Master’s Programmes at Universities (the Programme Order) and Ministerial Order no. 666 of 24 June 2012 on Exams and Grading for University Study Programmes (the Exam Order) and the University Act, section 18 (5).

Note 2: The departments do not have a shared deadline for the submission of final exam plans.

Note 3: Pursuant to the Exam Order, section 14 (1).

Note 4: Pursuant to the Exam Order, section 58.