GUIDELINES FOR QUALITY ASSURANCE OF EXAMINATIONS AND GRADING AT NHH
Approved by the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs on 1 November 2019.
Pursuant to the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges Section 3–9, NHH must ensure that the students’ knowledge and skills are tested and assessed in an impartial and academically sound manner. Assessments are also intended to safeguard the academic standard of the institution and the study programme in question. An external evaluation must be carried out of the assessment or the assessment arrangements.
1.1 The objective of the guidelines
The objective of the guidelines is
- to ensure that students enjoy due process protection in connection with assessments of their knowledge and skills
- to contribute to quality assurance of the school's study programmes
- to create a common framework for grading and the use of examiners at the school
Reference is otherwise made to the Regulations for Full-time Study Programmes at the Norwegian School of Economics and supplementary provisions thereto.
2. QUALITY ASSURANCE OF EXAMINATIONS, GRADING AND USE OF THE GRADE SCALE
2.1 Quality assurance of examination questions and the conduct of examinations
The course coordinator is responsible for the preparation of examination questions and guidelines for examiners, and for quality assuring them by the deadline set by the Section for Exams.
All examination questions must be reviewed by two members of the academic staff – the course coordinator and another relevant member of staff.
All examinations must include written guidelines for examiners. The course coordinator must submit the guidelines together with the examination questions to the Section for Exams.
When the Section for Exams has announced the grades, the course coordinator publishes the guidelines for examiners on Canvas. If necessary, the course coordinator will adapt the guidelines for examiners before they are made available to the students. The adapted guidelines for examiners must also be sent to the Section for Exams.
The guidelines for examiners must describe
- what the answers should include for them to be assessed as outstanding, good, adequate etc.
- a proposed answer, if applicable
- an evaluation field, if applicable
The guidelines for examiners must be structured in such a way that they ensure that different examiners base their assessment on the same criteria, and that students' answers are assessed in relation to the learning outcomes defined for the course.
If the exam questions are in Norwegian, they must be available in both forms of Norwegian.
If the examination questions are very comprehensive, or if the necessary terminology is lacking or unknown, so that there is a risk of misunderstandings, the department may, in accordance with the Regulations relating to the form of Norwegian in examination questions, apply for exemption from the requirement that the examination questions must be available in both forms of Norwegian. Exemptions can be granted for individual examinations or for a period of up to five years.
The department must submit an application for exemption from the requirement that examination questions must be available in both forms of Norwegian to the Office of Student and Academic Affairs no later than four months before the examination in question is to be held. Applications for exemption must state the grounds for exemption, and previous examination question papers must be enclosed. The person responsible for the study programme of which the exam is part makes a decision in the case.
Permitted support material for supervised assessments shall be stated in the course description. The course description will specify whether calculators are permitted during the exam.
The course coordinator is responsible for posting a list of permitted aids at least two weeks before the examination and for ensuring that this information is included on the front page of the examination question paper. The information must be unambiguous, consistent and available to everyone, and it must also tally with the list of permitted aids in the course description.
In order to prevent any formal errors in the conduct of the examination, the course coordinator must be available to answer questions during the examination, so that any unclear matters, shortcomings or errors can be quickly rectified. The course coordinator must be available to be contacted/summoned by the Section for Exams throughout the examination. If it is not possible for the course coordinator to be available during the examination, the department must ensure that a stand-in is available. Information about who the contact person is for the examination in question must be stated on the front page of the examination paper.
If additional information is given during the examination that may have a bearing on the examination result, such information must always be given immediately to the Section for Exams and to all the candidates sitting the examination.
- The course coordinator is responsible for informing the Section for Exams about such additional information.
- The course coordinator is also responsible for informing candidates via Canvas when unsupervised forms of assessment are used.
- The Section for Exams is responsible for informing candidates about written examinations with supervised assessment.
In the event of an addition to or an error in an examination question, the course coordinator must send a revised examination question and guidelines for examiners to the Section for Exams as soon as possible. It is important that both revised examination questions and the adapted guidelines for examiners are accessible in connection with the ordinary grading process and the consideration of appeals.
2.2 Anonymisation of candidates
The candidates' grades must be based on academic merit alone. Candidates must be anonymised if possible to fulfil the legal requirement that the assessment is impartial and carried out in an academically sound manner.
In connection with forms of assessment where anonymisation is difficult or impossible, the department must ensure in some other way that the grade is awarded on an impartial and academically sound basis. See also Section 6.
2.3 Quality assurance of grading and the awarding of grades
The examiners in each course must have a common understanding of how the grade scale is to be used.
A common understanding also entails that assessments made within a group of examiners are treated confidentially, and that examiners must not inform others about their own or other examiners’ assessments that differed from the final grade. See also Section 5. 3.
The departments must ensure that the examiners are informed about the applicable course descriptions, curricula and guidelines for examiners. See also Section 2. 1.
Every semester, the heads of programme review the grade statistics and appeal statistics for the preceding semester. These reports form the basis for quality assurance and are among the topics regularly discussed by the heads of programmes, heads of department and the Vice Rector for Academic Affairs. The departments are responsible for following up the reports.
3. REQUIREMENTS FOR THE USE OF EXAMINERS
3.1 The Act relating to Universities and University Colleges
Pursuant to the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges, there must be an external evaluation of the assessment or assessment arrangements.
When assessing the candidates’ independent work at second degree level, there must be at least two examiners, at least one of whom must be external.
In the event of a new assessment following an appeal against the awarded grade or or on grounds of procedural errors in connection with examination, there must also be at least two examiners, at least one of whom must be external.
3.2 NHH's requirements for the use of examiners
In addition to the statutory requirements set out above, NHH always uses two examiners – at least one of whom is external – for a significant proportion of the assessments in a course.
Moreover, NHH has the following rules for the use of external examiners:
- If the number of exam answers is 100 or lower, 25 of these answers must be assessed by an external examiner.
- If the number of exam answers is higher than 100, 25% of the answers must be assessed by an external examiner.
If an external examiner is used, all internal examiners must assess some answers together with external examiners in order to ensure that all the answers are assessed on the basis of the same criteria. It is the Section for Exams that ensures that this distribution of examiners is achieved.
If the form of assessment for a course consists of several elements, the department can decide to only use internal examiners to assess elements other than the most important assessment element.
Two examiners are normally used in oral exams.
The Vice Rector for Academic Affairs can make exceptions to the rule concerning external examiners on application from the department. All courses must nonetheless use an external examiner at least every third year.
4. APPOINTMENT OF EXAMINERS, REQUIREMENTS OF EXAMINERS
4.1 Internal examiner
4.2 External examiners
External examiners are examiners who are not employees of NHH.
The person’s connection and proximity to NHH and the academic environment responsible for teaching the course is decisive for whether he or she can be an external examiner. The choice of an external examiner must not lead to doubts about whether a student’s grades have been awarded on the correct basis. See point 1 (impartial) and section 6 (impartiality).
- PhD students cannot be external examiners.
- Employees in adjunct professor positions cannot be external examiners.
- Guest lecturers who lecture in a very limited capacity can be external examiners.
- Employees on the fringes of NHH, e.g. employees of limited companies owned by NHH, can in some instances be used as external examiners.
The Vice Rector for Academic Affairs can make exceptions from the above rules for external examiners on application from the department.
4.3 Examiners' qualifications
Examiners in subjects at bachelor and master's degree level must have qualifications corresponding to at least a master's degree in the field. Examiners in subjects at PhD level must have a PhD/doctoral degree or corresponding competence that qualifies him/her for a permanent academic position in the field.
4.4 Appointment of external examiners
The departments are responsible for at all times maintaining a list of existing and potential external examiners for the courses the departments offer.
The departments are responsible for requesting that external examiners be appointed. A memorandum of understanding will be agreed with examiners on the basis of such requests.
The Vice Rector for Academic Affairs is responsible for quality assuring the list of available examiners.
4.5 Allocation of examiners
The departments must inform the Section for Exams about which examiners will participate in ordinary and appeal assessments, and this must be done two weeks at the latest before the examination date for the courses in question. A different examination commission than the original one will be used in connection with appeal assessments.
It is important that the departments inform the examiners in advance about relevant assignments and deadlines, for instance deadlines for announcing grades and providing grounds for grades.
External examiners must familiarise themselves with
- the Regulations for Full-time Study Programmes at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH).
- supplementary provisions thereto
- guidelines for quality assurance of examinations and grading at NHH
5. GRADING PROCEDURES
5.1 Guidelines for awarding grades
The examiners shall grade examination answers independently of each other and jointly determine the grade.
When an external examiner is used to assess the examination answers and the external and internal examiners do not agree on the assessment of an answer, the head of the programme shall be involved. Together, the group will evaluate whether the grading has been carried out in accordance with the adopted guidelines and principles. Furthermore, they will agree on a new grade for the exam paper. In the event of disagreement, the head of the programme decides the grade.
5.2 Practical matters
Both examiners are responsible for ensuring that the examination answers are graded and that the grades are registered in the digital exam system by the stipulated deadline. The deadline for announcing the ordinary grades is normally three weeks after the examination date. This is regulated in the Act relating to Universities and University Colleges. It is very important that the deadlines are met.
Only the board of NHH can grant dispensation from the deadlines for announcing grades.
If grading is delayed due to illness or other unforeseen circumstances, the Section for Exams must be informed about this at once in order to inform the students.
When the grading is completed, the grades must be registered in the digital exam system by both the internal and external examiner.
In the case of paper-based exams, the internal examiner must keep the original examination answers to be able to provide grounds for the examination result at the student's request. The internal examiner must return the original answers to the Section for Exams immediately after the expiry of the deadline for providing grounds for a grade. The Section for Exams is required by law to file the exam answers.
In connection with appeals, the grading must be recorded on paper, signed by both examiners and returned to the Section for Exams within the stipulated deadline.
Everyone who handles examination questions and examination answers is responsible for storing and forwarding them in a responsible manner.
5.3 Duty of secrecy
Examiners are subject to a duty of secrecy pursuant to Section 13 of the Public Administration Act. Discussions between groups of examiners must be considered confidential. If a student requests grounds for an examination result, the grounds must concern the grade agreed by the examiners.
Examiners who provide the grounds for a grade are not allowed to disclose their own or others' assessments that differed from the final grade. The examiner and the candidate are not allowed to discuss and reassess the grade in connection with providing grounds for the grade. Candidates who do not accept the grounds for the grade and the awarded grade can file a formal appeal and request that the examination grade be reassessed
In connection with written examinations, examiners' names are normally not announced until after the examination results are announced.
6.1 Assessment of impartiality
A member of the academic staff will be deemed to be disqualified on grounds of partiality if there is a relationship between him/her and the student as described in Section 6 of the Public Administration Act:
'A public official shall be disqualified from preparing the basis for a decision or from making any decision in an administrative case
if he himself is a party to the case;
if he is related by blood or by marriage to a party in direct line of ascent or descent, or collaterally as close as a sibling;
if he is or has been married or is engaged to a party, or is the foster parent or foster child of a party:
He is similarly disqualified if there are any other special circumstances which are apt to impair confidence in his impartiality; due regard shall inter alia be paid to whether the decision in the case may entail any special advantage, loss or inconvenience for him personally or for anyone with whom he has a close personal association.
Disqualification on grounds of partiality applies to grading ('making a decision'), correcting assignments that form the basis for course approval ('making a decision') and the preparation of examination questions ('prepare the basis for a decision'),
Other connections/relationships than those mentioned above (e.g. close friendships, relations between colleagues etc.) can also constitute grounds for disqualification on grounds of partiality. The member of the academic staff must assess this him/herself, if relevant in consultation with the head of the department, cf. the Public Administration Act Section 8 (Decision regarding the question of disqualification);
'The official shall himself decide whether he is disqualified. He shall submit the question to his immediate superior for decision if a party so requests and this may be done without undue loss of time, or if the official himself otherwise finds reasons to do so (...) (…)’
The member of the academic staff is obliged to notify the head of department if there is any doubt about his/her impartiality in relation to the student.
7. PROCEDURES IN THE EVENT OF SUSPECTED CHEATING/ATTEMPTED CHEATING
If, during the grading of examination answers, the examiners suspect cheating/attempted cheating, they must immediately notify the Section for Exams about the matter.
Based on the examiners' description of their findings in the examination answers, the Office of Student and Academic Affairs will assess whether there are grounds for accusing the student of cheating. In such case, the Office of Student and Academic Affairs will inform the student(s), prepare the case and send it to NHH's Appeals Committee for consideration.
The examiner must submit a written account of why he/she suspects cheating/attempted cheating.
The examiner can decide in each case whether an examination answer can be graded in the usual manner, or whether grading (if applicable) should be postponed until after the Appeals Committee has considered the case. If the examination answer is graded in the usual manner, the grade will normally be withheld and the candidate will not be informed of the result. The right to annul results is in any case not subject to a time limit, cf. the Act relating to Universities and Colleges, Section 4-7 The Appeals Committee can therefore annul the result irrespective of whether the candidate has already been informed of the result.