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University of Pretoria

The University of Pretoria (UP) is one of Africa’s top universities and the largest contact university in South Africa.
Creating questions


Computer-based assessment / testing (CBA / CBT) has a long history at the University of Pretoria (UP). In 1991, UP started their CBT endeavors with the Questionmark DOS version in a computer laboratory consisting of 50 and later 80 computers. This early innovation has grown into the current situation where Questionmark Perception is used across test centers on five campuses of UP, each with their own installation of the software and computer laboratories.


How the Product has helped

Questionmark Perception remains the official system for most formal computer-based assessments due to, amongst its functionalities, the excellent security features. The program was implemented at UP in 2013 after a successful pilot in 2012. The total number of online assessments using Questionmark Perception at UP has grown from 37,000 in 1992 to 179,162 in 2019.

The delivery of successful enterprise-wide computer-based testing requires a solid multi-disciplinary partnership. At UP, the partnership consists of involvement from Questionmark (the developer), ALTRON (the South African representative/vendor), UP’s Information Technology Services (ITS), the CBT team from the e-learning section of the Department for Education Innovation (EI), the lecturers and invigilators.

Providing high quality teaching and learning is of vital importance in any learning environment and even more so in higher education. To ensure that the academics are well equipped for this task, EI offers regular training courses in different aspects of teaching and learning including assessment and the use of CBT and Questionmark Live. A typical training session in the use of Questionmark Perception would consist of a section on the development of high-quality objective items. Objective items can be defined as questions where a student must select a correct answer from a list of options. This is the type of questions that can be used in CBT because the system marks the student responses and can provide immediate feedback after the test session. Assessments are administered in a secure environment in one of the computer laboratories under strict examination rules using Questionmark Perception.


The growth in CBT and its use as part of the assessment strategies of many academic departments can be attributed to the distinct advantages it has for both lecturers and students. Lecturers can build reusable databanks of questions and select a combination of questions for each assessment. Lecturers may enhance the authenticity and relevance of assessments with the inclusion of various media in both the questions and answer options.

The many different question types and combination of questions are particularly useful to present case studies which are often used in the medical and veterinary environments. Large question banks and randomization of questions and question options, diminish the possibility of dishonesty of students during assessment.

The statistical analysis that the Questionmark system provides, assists in improving the quality of questions. Although the development of high-quality questions is a time-consuming activity, lecturers value the opportunity to do regular assessments without the extra marking load. Students appreciate the immediate feedback that change their assessment opportunities into learning opportunities.

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