To read this content please select one of the options below:

The dark side of online transition of exams in higher education: a perspective of an emerging nation

Isuru Koswatte (Division of Management, Organisations and People, School of Business and Creative Industries, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, UK)
Chandrika Fernando (School of Electrical Engineering Computing and Mathematical Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, Australia)
Nirma Sadamali Jayawardena (Department of Marketing, OP Jindal Global University, Sonipat, India and Department of Marketing, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia)

VINE Journal of Information and Knowledge Management Systems

ISSN: 2059-5891

Article publication date: 20 July 2023

Issue publication date: 21 August 2023




Higher educational institutes (HEIs) are experiencing a significant shift towards online education, which has been fast-forwarded with the global pandemic of COVID-19. The forced shift has also exposed many vulnerabilities in online education, especially assessments. The purpose of this study is to investigate the potential dark side of the digital transformation of examinations through the lens of university students.


This study involves a sample of 127 university students from the fields of business and science, technology, education and management (STEM) and the key factors affecting student perception were assessed quantitatively to explore the interrelationships.


Results revealed that both business and STEM students have a similar impression of the use of online examinations, and the majority still have mixed feelings about them as a replacement for physical examinations. The regrouping of the factors revealed two key dimensions, trustworthiness and apprehensible education, as key areas of student perception in the context of online examinations.

Research limitations/implications

This study aims to strengthen the understanding of Kolb’s experiential learning mechanism through a discussion on the importance of abstract conceptualization as opposed to concrete experience in the establishment of the online assessment and learning space. Practically speaking, increasing investment in internet infrastructure and forming strategic alliances with important parties, like internet providers, to create uninterrupted network coverage, are an effective place to start if one wants to make sure that the process of moving to online learning is becoming more and more accepted by educators, students, and the general public.


The online transition to higher education has seen expedited growth since the pandemic and has not given much room for many HEIs globally to adjust. The procedures and techniques implemented take a Western lens, and less attention is given to the emerging context and its context-specific characteristics in such implementation. This study takes the theoretical lens of Kolb and proposes the key learnings for a successful online transition to assessment in emerging contexts.



The authors would like to acknowledge The Vice Chancellor of NSBM Green University Sri Lanka for the support provided during the data collection phase.


Koswatte, I., Fernando, C. and Jayawardena, N.S. (2023), "The dark side of online transition of exams in higher education: a perspective of an emerging nation", VINE Journal of Information and Knowledge Management Systems, Vol. 53 No. 5, pp. 1005-1024.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles