DL: Exam.net

One of the big questions many of us have is how to do "authentic IB assessment" while teaching remotely.  Well, the most simple answer is, you can't.  But I do think that we can get close. 

Below you will see a sample exam that I gave on exam.net. The online program is free and meets GDPR requirements for student privacy. Students are not required to make an account to use the program.  The program is currently free to all users outside of Sweden until the end of 2020.  You might want to give it a go.  I am even considering that I will use it when I am back in the classroom, as you will see below.

Why use exam.net?

  • The program is easy to use - for both teachers and students.
  • Students only need to be given an "access code."  They do not need an account. 
  • You can upload a pdf file as an assessment.  You can easily replace the file if you find errors or decide to change it.
  • You can set accommodations for students.  For example, they can have access to a spell check, a dictionary, or an audio file of the assessment that you create.  You can specify that these accommodations are available to everyone or only for students with IB accommodations for assessment.
  • There is a chat feature that allows you to answer individual questions during the assessment - or send a message to all students.
  • The program exports the assessments as a PDF or to Google Drive, creating Google Docs that are easy to comment on and then share back with the students.
  • You can set up a timed assessment.

Taking the exam: the student view

Students took the test attached below. The test follows our introduction to the biology of memory lessons.  Students have studied localization of function, neuroplasticity, scanning techniques, and neurotransmission.

The entire unit was done by remote learning.

Intro to biology quiz

The student view

Students may take the exam either in a normal browser or by using the downloadable software which creates a more secure system.  Although I might use the software when I return to the classroom, for remote learning, I had them use "any browser."  I also had them keep their zoom cameras on during the assessment to control for phone use or other "dubious activity."

When students take the exam, their screen goes into full-screen mode.  If they try to leave the screen, you receive a message telling you that they have "lost focus." In order for them to continue, they have to send you an explanation.

It is not possible for students to cut and paste on the exam.

If you would like to see the student view, you can log into the exam using the key: MS4V6d. Be sure to check out the accommodation tools that are available to you.  I made them available to all students.

Taking the exam: the teacher view

In order to better understand the teacher's view, please see the screenshot below.

You will see below the screen that you have as the teacher.  When taking the exam, you log in and go to the "surveillance/results" tab.

  • In the right-hand margin, you can see the names of the students who have logged into the exam. (I have blocked them out for privacy reasons).  When a student has submitted their assessment, you will a check next to their name.
  • When you click on a student's name, it takes you to the student's page so that you can see their progress.  This would allow you to give some feedback via chat if you see that the student is going down the wrong path...
  • You can see across the top how many students are taking the exam and how many have completed it.
  • There is a student timer.  When taking the exam, you start the timer and the students can see this on their screen.  However, in order to end the exam, you have to press "force submission for students."  This then saves and closes all students' exams that are not finished.  However, you can choose NOT to force submit students - for example, those with extra time.
  • If a student is locked out because of Internet problems, then you have to click on "individual exam keys to resume the exam" and send them a new login.
  • You can choose to anonymize the assessments so that you do not know whose paper you are marking.
  • The last two rows give you saving options - for example, print, download as a Word doc, a pdf, or download to Google Drive or Onedrive.
  • During the test, you can click on "individual settings" and give accommodations to specific students.

Marking the assessment

When students have finished the assessment, you then export the assessments in one of the manners listed above.  You can also provide students with a rubric as a "support document" when taking the test.

When you export to Google drive, Exam net automatically creates a folder and saves all work according to the information that you requested form students - e.g. names, id numbers, other indicators - or by anonymous allocation with a key that you can then figure out later. 

You cannot mark the exam in Exam.net

Assessment markscheme

For this assessment, I gave students up to four marks for each question. My "markscheme" is below. Feel free to use it as you like.  The markbands below were based on my own students' performance and should only serve as a potential example.

25 - 28 marks710 - 14 marks3
22 - 24 marks65 - 9 marks2
19 - 21 marks50 - 4 marks1
15 - 18 marks4

Question 1. Explain the diagram below as if you are teaching this to a student who is new to class. Be sure to explain from the start of the process to the end of the process.

Assessment: 1 mark for each of the following points clearly described: action potential (impulse) begins at dendrites and travels down the axon; the release of neurotransmitters from the terminal button and crossing the synapse; the attachment to receptor sites on the post-synaptic gap; the reuptake of the neurotransmitter and/or the breakdown of the neurotransmitter by enzymes.

Question 2. Localization of function means that a certain behaviour can be traced to a specific part of the brain. Making reference to the studies by HM and Maguire, to what extent is memory localized to a specific part of the brain?  You do not need to describe the entire procedure of either study.

Assessment: 1 mark is awarded for drawing the conclusion that that memory is a complex human behaviour and is not localized to only one part of the brain. 1 mark is awarded for noting that Maguire's research found that the posterior hippocampus plays a role in spatial memory; 1 mark for the role of the hippocampus in semantic memories in the study of HM; 1 mark for noting that procedural memories and/or emotional memories are not processed in the hippocampus, as shown in the study of HM.

Question 3.  Explain one ethical consideration relevant to one study of the role of biology in memory. You do not need to describe the study, just make the link.

Assessment: 1 mark for identifying an ethical consideration. 1 mark for linking the ethical consideration to an appropriate study.  2 marks for a good explanation of the ethical consideration with regard to the study.

Question 4.  Maguire’s study of neuroplasticity in taxi drivers took place in an MRI.  Does this mean that the study lacks ecological validity?  Why or why not?

Assessment: 1 mark for the correct answer: no. 1 mark for a clear understanding of the meaning of ecological validity. 2 marks for explaining that since the MRI only measures structure, it does not play a role in changing the natural behaviour of a participant.

Question 5.  Define the term “bidirectional ambiguity.”  Is this a problem in Maguire’s study?  Why or why not?

Assessment: 1 mark for the correct answer: no.  1 mark for a definition of the term. 2 marks for explaining why it is not a problem. Although the study is correlational, there is a clear increase in the size of the posterior hippocampus based on the number of years that a taxi driver has worked in his job. 

Question 6.   Atkinson and Shiffrin argued that rehearsal was required for memory to be transferred from STM to LTM.  How does research in neuroplasticity better explain what is happening in the process of “rehearsal?”

Assessment: 1 mark: Research shows that areas of the brain that are used more frequently tend to be "larger." 1 mark: This is due to an increase in grey matter (dendritic branching). 1 mark for some explanation of this process: The repeated firing of the neurons (LTP) leads to genetic expression that leads to dendritic branching. 1 mark for the link to Atkinson and Shiffrin:  this shows that rehearsal leads to biological responses that lead to changes in the brain.

Question 7.  Describe one study of the role of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in memory.

Assessment: 1 mark for the aim of the study; 1 mark for the procedure; 1 mark for findings; 1 mark for the link between acetylcholine and memory. It does not matter if the study is human or animal research.

A sample "7" test

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