Students win appeal in cheating case
Exam committee chair Frank Verstijlen is ‘surprised’ at some of the Examination Appeals Board’s decisions. The board pointed out, among other things, that there was no evidence provided of WhatsApp conversations to substantiate the committee’s decision. ‘Obviously, it’s difficult to provide that’, says Verstijlen. ‘We’re not some domestic intelligence service.’
‘The system we created to administer online exams is showing cracks’, Verstijlen says. Law faculty dean Wilbert Kolkman says things needed to change anyway. ‘Online exams were new to us at first, but now we have to stay one step ahead of students.’
Kolkman thinks the answer lies in more oral exams and more assignments for courses with fewer than sixty students. ‘The board is willing to invest funds to support lecturers in this endeavour.’
When it comes to larger exams, his priority is to have more in-person exams, ‘divided across multiple sessions if need be’. But if that proves impossible, the dean still considers postponing or proctoring exams options. ‘But proctoring is expensive, and we’d rather not postpone.’
Whether the decisions, which were published on the UG website earlier this month, will affect other faculties, Verstijlen can’t say, although he suspects they will. ‘The appeals board will want to be consistent.’
Both cases involved students of criminal law. In an answer in the Criminal Law 3 exam, one of the students talks about a necklace rather than an earring, which was mentioned in the question. The exam was set up so that students were presented with variations on questions. One of the variations concerned a necklace.
The student explained that in her family, they never talked about earrings, but rather about necklaces, and that she had simply confused the two types of jewellery. Neither the lecturer nor the exam committee believed this, and the student was punished: her grade was nullified and she was excluded from taking the resit this year.
In June, the other student submitted an answer to the Criminal Law 1. The font changed in the middle of the text. He also discussed a topic that was only mentioned in a different variation of the question. Both the examiner and the exam committee felt this indicated he’d copied and pasted the text from someone else’s answer. He received the same punishment as the first student.
It is not possible to dispute the appeals board’s decision.