Earlier in its first semester the University of South Africa (Unisa) announced that its usual in person, venue exams would be changed to an online format due to the ongoing pandemic. With these exams now completed the university has polled its students to find out more about their experiences.

Unisa’s Department of Institutional Advancement reveals in a poll of 4 823 student responses that 66.1 percent would prefer to write their exams online again for the second semester of 2020, if given the choice. This leaves just 33.9 percent expressing preference to return to physical exams.

As for why these results came from the student body, Doctor Lusani Netshitomboni, Acting Director of the university’s Department of Institutional Advancement, has an idea.

“This is only to be expected since for most students this was a completely new experience and the initial glitches dented confidence. However, as we continue with this system and both students and staff become used to it, it is more than likely that many more students will adopt it as the preferred way of writing examinations.”

Those “initial glitches” refer to a spate of problems experienced with the online exams which lead to some students being unable to complete their work. Speaking to students we found that these were more prevalent at the start of the exam period but were slowly ironed out as time went on.

As Unisa has always been a distance education institution it was uniquely positioned to transfer to online exams when COVID-19 fully hit South Africa and the lockdown came into place. As the second semester of 2020 begins to start for universities around the country it remains to be seen how Unisa and others adapt its testing procedures to cope.

More information about Unisa’s online examination student poll can be found here. Some of its key findings are also available in the graphs below.

Image – Unisa