Online exams in higher education: Exploring distance learning students' acceptance and satisfaction

Aristeidou, Maria; Cross, Simon; Rossade, Klaus-Dieter; Wood, Carlton; Rees, Terri and Paci, Patrizia (2024). Online exams in higher education: Exploring distance learning students' acceptance and satisfaction. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 40(1) pp. 342–359.



Research into online exams in higher education has grown significantly, especially as they became common practice during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, previous studies focused on understanding individual factors that relate to students' dispositions towards online exams in ‘traditional’ universities. Moreover, there is little knowledge on university distance learning students' experience of transitioning from in-person to online exams.

This study investigates the acceptance and satisfaction of university distance learning students in their transitioning from in-person to online exams, through multiple factors.

We employed a mixed-methods study to understand the relationship between assessment and online exam factors (e.g., revision and online exam satisfaction, assessment competencies, invigilation acceptance, exam anxiety and workspace satisfaction). Cluster analysis and interview data contributed to our understanding of students who are ‘strongly positive’ and ‘less positive’ towards online exams.

Results and Conclusions
Our findings highlight the overall importance of increasing student confidence by building their assessment competencies throughout their studies and familiarising them early with the technologies and formats to be used in the actual exam. We also shed light on particular student characteristics that relate to reduced online exam acceptance, such as students with disabilities, caring responsibilities and mental health issues, or students who lack access to the necessary technology.

The findings and recommendations of this research contribute to the wider agenda of designing fair and trustworthy online assessment, including exams, for the future

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