Second and third year MBchB students have been asked to complete an online assessment ‘closed book’ despite the School of Medicine lacking invigilation or monitoring software to enforce this.
In an announcement to students, seen by Craccum, MBchB Phase 1 Director, Roger Booth, told students that their online assessments scheduled for Monday September 21 would be ‘closed book’. The email reminded students that as future doctors “honesty and integrity are fundamental requirements for effective medical practitioners”.
However, the faculty are currently unable to explain how this honesty and integrity will be upheld as the university does not have online invigilation software.
Booth reminded students that they are being trusted to comply with the test conditions and requirements. The university’s Academic Conduct Statute appears at the beginning of the assessment. This declaration has students agree when they submit online assessments that they have not discussed the test with other students, given or received assistance and not consulted “notes, books or online resources”. It makes it clear that a failure to comply with these rules will constitute a breach of the student academic conduct statute.
This Academic Conduct Statute appears on most online assessments – both open and closed book.
However, students told Craccum that they did not believe the School of Medicine could properly enforce the closed book policy. Students said many in the cohort believed they would be disadvantaged if they did not access their notes, believing many students across their year would.
Associate Professor, Andy Wearn, Head of the Medical Programme, confirmed that students would be asked to sit this assessment closed book with an academic integrity statement. He declined to comment on whether the faculty believed this statement was sufficient to prevent students cheating.
Online assessments at the university are guided by the academic integrity guidelines for remote learning. It says that academic integrity must be upheld in online assessment. It suggests exam-designers “replace questions that simply recall facts with questions that require higher level cognitive skills – for example, questions that include analysis and explanation of answers”.
The test, an end of module test on Blood, Immunity, and Infection was originally scheduled to be held on campus over a two hour window. Last week, the university reversed its decision to resume on campus teaching following outcry from students and comments made by Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, that contradicted guidelines that the university was following.
AUMSA declined to comment. In 2018, Critic Te Arohi reported that medicine students at the University of Otago were found to be cheating on practical assessments, leading the medicine school to declare that the ‘integrity of the exam had been compromised’.