Implement Open Book Exams to reduce the detrimental effect of learning during a pandemic.
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It must be recognised that studying for a University course is not done in isolation from the outside world. A global pandemic disrupts learning; therefore, factors must be implemented to reduce the detrimental effects of the disruption.
Since the beginning of the academic year, face-to-face teaching has been little to non-existent. Understandably, this is to no fault of Nottingham Law School, however, recognition has failed with regard to the causal impact of such. It has been found in various studies that there is less brain synchronization and lower performance when watching something through video stream when directly compared to interpersonal communication (Jiang et al. 2012; Hirsch et al. 2017; Perez, Carreiras, and Dunabeitia 2017; Pan et al. 2017).
Of a current 11 modules, 7 have required us to self-teach. The time it takes to teach oneself, rather than to be taught by a professional has not been considered, and pressured time restraints have been sustained. Over the entirety of the LPC Course, only a handful of the many Large Group Sessions have been live. Some of these pre-recorded LGS’ have dated back previous academic years, with a few even containing outdated Law. It is apparent that the quality of learning that we expect and subsequently pay for has been overlooked. With regard to the modules that have been taught live through Small Group Sessions, students have had the opportunity for a physical teaching session once a month per module. This is an extortionate jump from the average weekly guidance we once would’ve received. Throughout our University lives, students have always been informed of the importance to attend physical sessions, yet we are now conduced to believe that online teaching produces the same results. As of the 4th of January, students have been informed that face-to-face teaching will cease going forwards, with disregard to the effect this will have. As a national lockdown commences, students have no access to libraries and vital facilities required for learning. The quality of teaching is unlike previous years, yet the cost remains the same. Students are being strained, some with part-time jobs to fund what is a fully online course.
Outside of the scope of the course, the pandemic remains. Students are often working in more disruptive environments and in total isolation from their support networks. This, justifiably, effects concentration, quality of work and most importantly mental health. It is likely that most students are pre-occupied with worry regarding the health of themselves and those around them with some students facing bereavement. This also calls for implementation of factors that lessen the effects that learning in this current climate causes.
The response to us as students must be proportionate to the disadvantage under which we have been placed. It is apparent that the majority of Legal Practice Course providers allow open book examinations, thus we feel that an appeal to allow such at Nottingham Law School would not be an unreasonable request. The SRA does not state that examinations must be closed book, therefore the assessment of memorisation is unnecessary, particularly in the current circumstances. In addition, by allowing first resits that are not capped and adequate extensions to allow self-teaching and sufficient revision periods - students would positively benefit from the decreased pressure in such precedented times. The fees we are expected to pay should mirror the true percentage of course materials and course quality provided.
As a cohort of students, we hope that our stance does not continue to go overlooked and that Nottingham Law School can provide us with the support we need.
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