Transforming exams across Australia

processes and platform for e-exams in high stakes, supervised environments

Mathew Hillier, Matthew Bower, Michael Cowling, Andrew Fluck, Ruth Geer, Scott Grant, Beth Harris, Kenneth Howah, David Meacheam, Dominic McGrath, Jeremy Pagram, Bruce White

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

12 Downloads (Pure)


This project aimed to address a national gap in the pedagogical sophistication, relevance of assessment and knowledge of student engagement in high stakes supervised assessments. It involved development and delivery of authentic e-assessment in the supervised exam room context, in a manner that was scalable and sustainable. Findings were designed to guide teachers, assessment developers, technology support, examinations managers and institutional leadership in matters of policy, practical implementation and pedagogic design. There was recognition that web-browser-based assessment alone does not permit candidates to demonstrate skills based on sophisticated computer software applications fit for professional work. The use of a common USB booting system provides total institutional control of student-owned computers without interfering with their personal data or software. These critical ideas led the project team to design a robust e-Exam platform, which is also resilient to network breakdowns. The project team then went on to implement and verify, across a range of institutional contexts, a viable technological and procedural approach to scale authentic e-assessment. Across the four years of the project, 10 partner institutions had input, 35 e-exams were conducted with over 3000 students, teachers, and administrators participating in exam sessions, in surveys, focus group interviews, workshops and an international symposium. Key findings included: the creation of a viable, robust technology platform for e-Exams; that students accept e-Exams and find them suited to their largely preferred ways of working; logistical support and attention to detail matters in the high stakes, time-pressured exams; academic development in terms of digital literacy and digital pedagogy will be important to embedding and scaling authentic e-assessment across the curriculum; and policy is a mechanism to support change, as is managerial support.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCanberra
PublisherAustralian Government Department of Education
Commissioning bodyAustralian Government Department of Education
Number of pages44
ISBN (Electronic)9781760517571, 9781760517564, 1760517569
ISBN (Print)9781760517588
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • performance based assessment
  • online assessment
  • high stakes testing
  • higher education
  • Australia
  • student assessment
  • tests
  • e-Exam

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Transforming exams across Australia: processes and platform for e-exams in high stakes, supervised environments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Hillier, M., Bower, M., Cowling, M., Fluck, A., Geer, R., Grant, S., ... White, B. (2019). Transforming exams across Australia: processes and platform for e-exams in high stakes, supervised environments. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Education.