Students and professors confront at-home final exams
The University is following through on its plan to close residences before the end of the semester, requiring students to take their final exams from home.
Final exam season is always a busy culmination of the semester, but unlike normal years where students have access to in-person resources, this year will be entirely remote.
Whereas the decision to move classes online last semester came unexpectedly, this semester students were told on May 28 in an announcement from the Office of the Provost that regardless of if the fall semester was held in residence, “all post-Thanksgiving activities, including the last week of instruction, reading period, and final exam period will be online.” Most on-campus students must leave their suites by 2 p.m. on Nov. 21, and are not to return for the remainder of the semester. Interviews with four students and two faculty members show that feelings on the matter are still mixed.
Students who spoke to the News recognized unique challenges that will come along with taking exams from home.
Jordan Davidsen ’24 pointed to the productivity gap that exists between working on campus and working from home. For him, the “academic environment” of the campus is an important part of staying motivated through the end of the semester.
“It’s not going to feel as important since I won’t be on campus surrounded by students who are also studying,” Davidsen said.
Another student, Melissa Tamarkin ’24, noted that without Yale’s wifi she will have to rely on a hotspot she received through First-Year Scholars at Yale to do work, which is not as reliable as on-campus wifi.
Tamarkin also explained that her house is small and the walls are thin, which will make it difficult to ensure the quiet environment she needs when taking her exams.
However, Tamarkin also contended that there are some comforts which come from being at home, such as getting to walk into her living room and talk to her mom after an exam.
Another potential problem with at-home exams could be time zone differences. Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Nadine Moeller, has multiple students who are learning remotely from China, which is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
To accommodate, she said that there will be an alternative time offered for the Zoom-proctored final exam of her class, with multiple exams written to prevent any student from gaining an unfair advantage.
Professors did not raise any concerns about academic dishonesty during the final exam period.
Hannah Lant, a preceptor in general chemistry, said that the CHEM 161 final exam will not be proctored — students will be allowed to take it during any three hour time block within a 24-hour period.
Lant said that students will be asked “to affirm an honor code,” and that “if a student decides to cheat, they have cheated themselves,” especially since many students taking the course will go on to major in the sciences or take the MCAT.
Two students who talked to the News stated that they feel open-note exams are the ideal way to minimize the possibility of academic dishonesty this semester. Both of those students said that either most of their finals will be in that format.
Overall though, there seems to be consensus that safety should be the number one priority right now.
“I think the University was very thoughtful of making the Thanksgiving break … the moment where everybody can return home, be with their families and not come back,” Moeller said. “I think for safety reasons that’s a really good plan… Safety should definitely be coming first here.”
Except in certain cases of exemption, all students living on campus are required to move out by Saturday, November 21, at 2:00 p.m.
Annie Sidransky | email@example.com