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Sunday, July 12, 2020

Academics & Research

‘Mixed feelings’: Virtual finals an easy transition for some, disruptive for others


Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

As the spring semester comes to a close remotely, students and faculty have adjusted to courses having virtual final exams.

All final exams for this semester are being conducted online, according to the UH final exams schedules website. Final exams began on April 28, with departmental exams occurring first. The remaining exams will finish testing by May 6.

For some professors, particularly those teaching writing-intensive courses, the adjustment has little impact on their final exams.

Honors College political science professor Michelle Belco does not administer single-answer finals to her students. Like many others in the Honors College, her exams consists of essay questions that students respond to through the TurnItIn plagiarism-checking software.

“(My questions) are designed to be a critical analysis of political theory and principles we covered during the semester,” Belco said. “As a result and to the best of my knowledge, the online learning working from home format has not caused any disruption to the students in the context of our final exam.”

For exploratory studies freshman Theodore Leung, little has changed with the transition to online finals. His professors have kept their exam formats the same, including with tests that were and will continue to be multiple choice.

“Testing at home is (more) comfortable,” Leung said. “I’m good with it so far. I still work hard and study to get ready.”

Although Leung prefers to attend classes in person than to watch recorded lectures or attend Zoom sessions, he said the self-paced virtual classes have pushed him to get farther ahead on his assignments in preparation for testing.

Exploratory studies freshman Sameer Abdulmajeed, on the other hand, has “mixed feelings” about taking finals virtually. He is happy to be able to take his calculus exam in the comfort of his own home, but the setting makes it feel less “real” than in-person tests.

“I like the lack of stress and nervousness that comes from not taking (the calculus final) in the CASA center,” Abdulmajeed said. “But overall, I feel like I’ve been studying less. Being at home all day makes me feel really lazy, and these tests don’t matter as much.”

Abdulmajeed said the math questions have become more conceptual since the start of the pandemic, as testmakers work to discourage cheating.

By focusing less on numerical answers, they decrease the chances that students will receive good scores simply by plugging problems into online calculators.

As summer classes will also be held online, the University has determined that this online final examination process will continue into the summer semester.

For more of The Cougar’s coronavirus coverage, click here.

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