ExamScan’s Automated Process Sends Written Exams Directly to MBox

ExamScan solves the problem of handing back graded paper exams.
by Teri Horton, Senior Instructional Consultant

Imagine the logistics and burden on faculty of handing back graded exams in a course of up to 2,500 students. It can be equally difficult to locate students' exams during office hours. In collaboration with our partners from ITS, Crinn Fairbanks in LSA Technology Services manages a service called ExamScan for LSA. This is a service where handwritten problem-based exams are scanned after they have been graded and returned to students electronically. The ExamScan process saves instructors’ time, decreases physical storage needs, and has reduced the number of grievances around academic integrity. A recent survey shows that students prefer ExamScan 3:1 over receiving a hard copy due to the speed of access to exam grades.

The ExamScan process begins when a course instructor submits a request for the service to ITS at the beginning of a given term. This is done by completing a spreadsheet detailing the request and emailing it to the ExamScan group in ITS. ITS informs the Document Imaging group, the Box Team, and Crinn, who is responsible for contacting the faculty member to find out their label printing preferences. For example, many instructors do not want students’ names visible on the labels—this allows exams to be graded anonymously. Crinn explained, “Instructors appreciate the flexibility with customizable labels for their classes in order to avoid biases during the grading process. Keeping student names off the labels provides a form of anonymity.”  

Class rosters need to be filtered and formatted in Excel using formulas that will translate through the print merge process so that the proper barcode font will code correctly on the document imaging side. The classes are usually separated by section, some classes can have more than 90 sections and over 2,000 students enrolled, so attention to detail is critical. “I have to be extremely careful with the way I format the labels to ensure that they do not fail. I worked with my team to develop a formatting and testing procedure to ensure continued success,” said Crinn. Each label is printed on high quality material and inspected for tears and ink smudges. Then the barcodes are tested page by page to be sure they are properly formatted and connected to the student’s uniqname. The labels are printed and organized by testing date for the entire term and presented with a cover sheet for accuracy and consistency. LSA Technology Services covers the cost of labels, printing, and LSA staff time dedicated to the service.

After the exams are collected, the process continues:

  • LSA delivers the graded exams, barcoded with student uniqnames, to the document imaging group in Wolverine Tower.

  • Imaging scans the exams to Box, naming each with student and exam identifiers.

  • The ITS Collaboration Services team runs a script that creates a secure folder for each student, assigns permissions, and moves digitized exams to the folders.

  • Students receive an email saying exams are available.

  • Students and instructors can review (and comment) on exams anytime, anywhere.

The major benefit to instructors is the time saved with electronic access to graded exams and scores, which frees up class time and office hours. In addition to zero cases of cheating through altered answers, instructors have also noted a decrease in the number of contested grades, and students greatly prefer the ExamScan service electronic delivery because of the fast turn around and ease of access to grades.

Crinn is passionate about this service because of the time it saves instructors who are teaching large enrollment courses and the added value to the student experience. “I am proud to be part of a service that supports faculty and frees up time that can be devoted to teaching and innovation. We have worked hard to streamline the service and not burden departments with figuring out the process for themselves.” 

When considering the complexity and scope of this service, it is no wonder ExamScan won the 2017 President’s Staff Innovation Team Award. To learn more about this service, visit the ExamScan page.

Release Date: 09/06/2019
Tags: Technology Services; Innovate Newsletter