Digital exams in business school education: Experiences from Kozminski University, Poland

Innovation in teaching and learning, and consequently assessment, is fuelled by the need for a closer alignment between the knowledge that students obtain with their degree and the job requirements they later encounter. Due to the strong connections with industry, business and management schools are on the front line of these global trends and feel the strongest demand for leadership and innovation. E-assessment is one of the most effective ways of bridging the gap between the classroom and the workplace, and giving students a genuine experience of the business world.

The transition from paper-based examinations to digital examinations has changed the entire assessment life-cycle of business schools and brought significant benefits for many schools' students, academics, and professional services staff. These include:

  • Being able to monitor an entire exam life-cycle in one place
  • Higher standards of exam security through lock-down browser tools
  • Quicker marking and feedback, and easier collaboration with peers online
  • Greater efficiency thanks to digital workflows
  • Savings in printing, transport and storage costs

Case Study: Kozminski University Business School & Inspera Assessment

Kozminski University (KU) is a private business school based in Warsaw, Poland. Founded in 1993, Kozminski is ranked as Poland's first-place private university by the Financial Times, and consistently scores highly in European and global rankings for its programmes. About 8,000 students are attending its courses in 2019, delivered by 3 faculties: Management, Law, and Finance and Accounting. In KU’s community, there are over 60,000 alumni and a high number of international students and staff from over 75 countries.

Initially, the main motivation drivers for introducing e-assessments at Kozminski University were:

  1. Reducing time spent on marking and grading;
  2. Improving readability of exam submissions to
    open-ended questions.

The first trial of another software provider was held in the period 2014-2016. “It was a simple online assessment tool, but it raised interest of faculty members who didn’t want to go back to paper and wanted an improved solution,” said Valeriia Gorlushko, Head of Examinations Centre at KU, who added: “Those improvements we were looking for focused on administrative benefits of workflow optimisation and required a provider with scaling capabilities in product and training. After a thorough research of competitors, we realised Inspera Assessment would be the best fit for our needs.” Another important factor was improving e-assessment adoption by having a product with a wide range of question types, so that complex exam question sets, such as those within Finance and Accounting courses, could be delivered digitally as well.

The collaboration between Kozminski and Inspera Assessment started in September 2017 and involved integration with the local student information system (SIS) and its VLE (Virtual University), which have been the key requirements for optimising the administrative workflow, in order to achieve a more effortless e-assessment ecosystem. Introducing digital examinations was a significant investment for Kozminski University, but this challenge was overcome by careful planning and committed project development. “We needed to get management support, but it was worth it. Already in the first year of Inspera Assessment implementation, the number of digital exams doubled”, shared Valeriia. Business school subjects often have question sets that involve method case studies, which have been successfully delivered in Inspera Assessment using the composite question type. That, for example, often includes a PDF or Excel attachment and related questions. “KU’s language departments are happy to take advantage of multimedia options in Inspera Assessment, and statistics-based subjects are benefiting from auto-marking. Most often used question types, apart from composite, are numeric entry, multiple choice, upload assignment and essay”, said Valeriia.

Some other lessons learned by KU from the e-assessment implementation so far include the following:

  • Be patient about organisational process - add 20% to the time that was planned for the project including time for learning and time for people to adapt and to adopt;
  • Academic staff become very independent in digital exam planning once given the right training resources;
  • Academic staff are coming up with great ideas and create engaging and interactive exams, so listening to them can be very helpful.

Business schools in the UK are still new to the e-assessment practices when it comes to examinations, so we hope this case study will be a useful source of inspiration and will help you reflect on your school's own methods of delivery.

By Valeriia Gorlushko, Head of Examination Centre, Kozminski University, and Dr Anja Sisarica, User Experience Researcher & Product Strategist, Inspera.

This case study is based on a presentation delivered by the authors at the 2019 Learning, Teaching, and Student Experience conference. More articles on learning and teaching topics, including articles from the conference, can be found here.