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Fig.: Andreas Vollmer

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - E-Assessment

Examination at HU

Since March 2020, the HU has been using digital examination formats due to the pandemic. For the first time, e-examinations (e-assessment) will take place at a distance, which will also be established beyond the pandemic as an alternative to conventional face-to-face examinations.

Examination figures of the last semesters at a glance

As a general rule, there are fewer examinations in summer semesters than in winter semesters.

  SoSe 2019 WiSe 2019/20 SoSe 2020 WiSe 2020/21
in total 41.485 48.580 36.712 56.275
not HU 29 107 139 203
JurFak 4.404 4.073 2.265 6.845
KSBF 11.370 13.785 10.605 17.135
LeWi 6.555 8.020 6.237 8.948
MatNat 4.527 5.987 4.287 6.103
PhilFak 918 1.326 765 1.473
PhilFak III 1.754 2.156 1.884 ----
SLF 6.241 6.572 6.241 6.539
TheoFak 248 274 287 257
WiWi 5.282 5.981 3.846 8.468
ZI 157 289 156 304

JurFak - Juristische Fakultät (Law); KSBF - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät (Humanities and Social Sciences); LeWi - Lebenswissenschaftliche Fakultät (Life Sciences); MatNat - Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät (Mathematics and Natural Sciences); PhilFak - Philosophische Fakultät (Arts and Humanities); SLF - Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaftliche Fakultät (Languages, Literature & Humanities); TheoFak - Theologische Fakultät (Theology); WiWi - Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät (Economics and Business Administration); ZI - Zentralinstitute (Central Institutes)



The development of the examination numbers in the individual faculties suggests that the JurFak, the KSBF and the WiWi apparently had a considerable "examination slump" in the summer semester 2020 compared to the previous summer semester due to the pandemic. The fact that this should or had to be made up for in the following semester (winter semester 2020/21) is suggested by the significant increase in the number of examinations compared to the winter semester 2019/20. In the more language and humanities-oriented faculties, the "examination bend" seems to be less pronounced. This could possibly be related to the examination formats used (rather free-text tasks), which are easier to implement in a legally secure manner than distance e-examinations and, on top of that, make repetitions seem less attractive.


Necessary adaptations to examining at a distance

First of all, the necessary infrastructure was expanded so that the LMS Moodle could be used for written digital examinations across the board. At the same time, e-examinations in presence and distance had to be legally secured in the framework and study regulations of the HU (ZSP-HU) against the background of state-wide legal regulations (Berlin Higher Education Act, BerlHG) and thus made possible. These include, for example, regulations on the use of audio and video conferencing software or on compensation for disadvantages. However, it quickly became apparent that the establishment of e-examinations at a distance is a complex process that influences the entire examination culture at HU Berlin and should be described as "work in progress".


The establishment of an examination system

After it became clear that e-examinations at the HU are thought of as a permanent examination option, the CMS decided to set up a separate examination system, the so-called Examination Moodle. In this way, archiving and security of the examination data can also be better guaranteed than in the previous "mixed system for teaching and examination".

However, the human resources for setting up and maintaining a second system as well as for the didactic supervision of the examinations remain extremely scarce, since the Moodle team has hardly received any additional human resources despite the huge increase in support measures and the associated tasks. Consequently, cuts have to be made in didactic guidance and in the supervision of the e-examinations in order to ensure at least the technical and organisational implementation of the e-examinations.

Thinking ahead didactically

Many of the examiners are committed to the conversion to digital e-examinations, but they need additional time and, above all, advice, since, for example, traditional examinations with paper and pen cannot usually be converted 1:1 into digital formats. It is also generally difficult to get involved with new examination formats such as written exams in the open-book procedure, if these lead to increased time expenditure for preparation and correction due to their applied approach. Nevertheless, the temporary "compulsion to e-examinations at a distance" has already contributed to more intensive thinking about examinations and the associated examination culture at the HU than before.


Legal certainty

In particular, the implementation of e-examinations as closed-book procedures has made it clear that central legal questions have still not been clarified with sufficient legal certainty. The balance between protection of personal data on the one hand (data protection) and protection against attempts at cheating on the other (examination law) is considered particularly critical. The most recent amendment to BerlHG §32.8 now at least provides that the universities themselves may regulate this. Whether this will hold in the long run remains to be seen.