Group examinations not a hit at CBS

Skrevet af Jannick Friis ChristensenMia Mathilde HansenTranslated by Felix Kasperek - Foto: Anders Meldgård Kjemtrup - 10. juni 2013 - 16:540 kommentarer
When group examinations haven’t seen a great renaissance, it might be attributed to the fact that the students are afraid of not standing out and show what they can really do.

Group examinations have been reintroduced at CBS, but a survey shows that only every fourth program at CBS has implemented them. It looks like convincing the study boards about the advantages of being examinated in groups is going to be a challenge.

When group examinations were banned by the former government it caused quite a ruckus and massive protests from a collective student movement.

Group exams only stayed in the corner for a few years before an independent panel of experts, appointed by the Ministry of Education in 2009, concluded that the universities should be able to decide whether they want the exams or not themselves.

The opportunity has been granted by the current government in the current Examination Order, in which universities according to §4 decide “on the basis of academic considerations in the curriculum decide whether an exam is held as either an individual examination or a group examination”.

At CBS, the Exam Order, approximately one year old, has led to an official Dean’s policy for group examinations in the memo “Manual for group work and individualization of ratings” that can be downloaded below (Danish only).

Decision regarding exam type left to course coordinators
In the Dean’s policies, a lot of emphasis is put on the new Examination Order including a mandate to have the curriculum include a fitting mixture of exam types.

In the meantime, only one quarter of the 37 programs selected as respondents have implemented oral group examinations as an exam form in one or more courses, shows a survey done by CBS OBSERVER.

It’s still up to the study boards to decide whether or not the group examinations should be part of the curriculum. The tendency in the 25 programs that are yet to include it is that they leave it to the course coordinators.

Even though the study board’s delegation of the decision in practice means that the wish for group examinations followed through on, the Dean of Education Sven Bislev supports the delegation.

- It’s the course coordinators that have to ensure that the structure of a course and the exam type match. In other words, they’re the ones who have to choose the correct combination, he says.

The strong do the most
With the reintroduction of the group examinations, the government has put a lot of emphasis on individual assessment.
Niels Egelund, Center Director at the Department of Education of AU thinks that individual assessment at group examinations is problematic.

- My practice has definitely been giving the same grades to all members of the groups. I can’t distinguish between the students. It’ll always be the strongest one that’s putting in the work, lifting the weak ones, he says.

Fear of collective grades
Sven Bislev doesn’t think the students have to collective grades in a group examination at CBS.

- The students know that differentiation, if necessary, is mandatory at a group examination, Sven Bislev explains.
Provost at RUC, Hanne Leth Andersen, who’s also a professor of university pedagogy, says that reluctance among students is evident, when it comes to group examinations.

Demystification needed
That’s why she thinks it’s up to the universities to demystify the exam type and replace the ideological element with academic pedagogical tools.

- The students who attend a university today aren’t used to thinking in groups in exam situations, says Hanne Leth Andersen, who sees a need for a prolonged clarification of the exam type.

- In order to remove the students’ insecurities, we’ve held seminars on group exams here at RUC, for example, she says and adds that this has led to a change in attitude among the students.

Group exams give more depth in an examination
Hanne Leth Andersen warns against seeing group examinations as a problem, but rather seeing opportunities.

- There are many ways to hold groups examinations. Overall, the group exams ensure that the examiner and external examiner can go more in-depth, simply because there’s more time and the same basic elements don’t have to be repeated with every student, she says and elaborates:

- Group examinations furthermore fit the courses with lots of group work well, and there aren’t really more drawbacks than with regular, individual exams.

And more productive
Even though CBS’ Dean’s office of Education officially supports the group exams, there’s still a leadership philosophy that supports autonomy of study boards and management.

- We are very reluctant about issuing orders and decrees, since it’s the study board representatives who’ve been chosen to know best, says Sven Bislev, although he understands Hanne Leth Andersen’s logic.

- An exam is more productive if it’s not just an interrogation of an exam-victim but rather a dialogue on a higher level, with more people included.

Others drag it down
Judging from the feedback of CBS OBSERVER’s survey, group examinations don’t seem destined for a grand renaissance at CBS.

That might be attributed to several things, but if there’s reluctance from the students, Sven Bislev has a suggestion to why that’s the case.

- CBS students are performance oriented and they probably don’t want to run the risk of being overshadowed or dragged down.


To some degree, it’s the programs within the humanities and communication that are championing the new policy, as can be seen from this list of programs that have implemented group examinations in the curriculum of one or more courses.