Fair exams despite Corona crisis

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Due to the corona crisis, the exam conditions in our third year of the Psychology Bachelor have changed compared to previous academic years. In our opinion, the regulations do not offer fair exam conditions due to the following reasons. 

Firstly, the amount of exams has doubled from 2 to 4 within a time period of 10 days. Therefore, the workload for students has increased drastically. Secondly, the format of the exams has changed to open questions for the majority of courses. Students are not used to this kind of format and it is more difficult to achieve high grades as the answer options are not specified. Hence, details are easily forgotten and it is difficult to list every aspect that is needed to achieve full credits. Further, in the multiple-choice format, the option of crossing 5 questions out has been a benefit for students in the past. With the new format of open questions, this rule has not been applied and students will need to answer every question. Moreover, the distribution of exam questions by chance leads to differences in the difficulty levels of the exams as students commonly find similar topics more difficult than others. In addition, the examination time has been reduced which further increases pressure for students. Specifically, open questions require sufficient time to answer them in-depth. Finally, the consequential adjustments in teaching and examination combined with the simultaneous impact of the corona crisis on our personal lives have to lead to heightened stress levels.

In general, we find that FPN did not take sufficient action to compensate for the increased difficulties students are facing due to these changes. 

Solutions for the current situation would be:

  • There needs to be more time in between exams to provide fair conditions compared to last year. The resits have been pushed back one week. This does not offer any solution for students without a resit. Further, the situation for people with many resits is still not acceptable.
  • The practical report deadline should be transferred to after the exams as this only increases the workload more. 
  • Essays provide a great alternative to online exams for at least one course which has already been demonstrated at various UM faculties. This reduces the amount of material which needs to be remembered and rehearsed during the 10 days of exam phase. Students can develop a deeper understanding of materials and study when it fits their learning schedule best. 
  • For the open online exam, we suggest having the possibility to choose which questions to answer. For example, offering 4 open questions and students need to answers 3 of them. This would reduce the unequal distribution of questions to students and partly compensate for the difficulty level differences mentioned above.
  • Sticking to the exam format of multiple-choice we are used to and learned to study for in the last three years. It would be possible to make an exam pool and randomly assign multiple-choice questions. Other faculties have applied this procedure already.  
  • For the courses Methods of Cognitive Neuroscience and Statistics III: Reduce the number of tasks.
    For example, SBE has taken out the last tasks for students as the change to online education made it difficult to study them sufficiently in the last period. 

    Given the circumstances, we consider it the FPN's duty to take care of student's well-being. By considering and implementing the above-mentioned suggestions, FPN could offer students the necessary support during these times.