That third exam opportunity could be a little bit more generous

Because of the pandemic, the UG is granting students a third exam opportunity. Lecturer Derk-Jan Heslinga supports the decision. However, he feels the university could have been more generous and make it so the situation has its advantages for both students and lecturers.

Even before the results of block 1.2 of this year have been analysed education committees, faculty councils, the university council and a myriad of other official consultation bodies, even before the exams of block 1.2 have been administered, the board of directors has sent a strong signal by granting students a third exam opportunity.

I support this decision, and the students more than deserve it. As lecturers, we have tried to do the best we can with what little resources we had over the past six months. But on closer inspection, the educational activities in blocks 1.1 and 1.2 were flawed, disorganised, and demotivating. Besides, students should be respected for not sitting an exam because they have to be in quarantine.

There is, however, one strict rule: Students can still only take an exam twice.

For lecturers, the situation means extra work, we’re constantly in exam mode

Ever since the decision was announced, I’ve been overwhelmed with requests from students to ‘not grade my exam’, and questions about when the third exam will be taking place. They’re asking me about updates on interim tests.

If I take the number of students in my classes who’ve called in sick with Covid and extrapolate it to the total number of Dutch citizens, approximately nine million people are sick with the virus. The students are uneasy and worried. It would have been easy to set their minds at ease. But more on that later.

For us lecturers, the whole situation means extra work. We’ll probably be in constant exam mode from the start of block 1.2 until the summer holidays. We’ll spend our weekdays scheduling exams.

We’ll spend our afternoons consulting with our colleagues to make sure we’ve included all the learning goals. We’ll spend our evenings monitoring exams. We’ll spend our weekends grading exams.

Just let students take an exam three times

In between all of that, we’ll have to find time to enter the grades into the system, arrange for students to inspect the exams, and schedule subsequent discussions. On top of all that, we also have to keep track of which students took which exam. It’s all business as usual, except for the last part.

Like I said, I think it was a great idea. But why can’t the board be just a bit more generous? Just let students take an exam three times. This would help students feel less uncertain and agitates and would relieve lecturers of having to track attendance, answering e-mails, and fielding discussions.

I could easily use the free time this would create to grade the exams from the third exam opportunity. But I guess it’s the gesture that counts. If only it was a bit more generous.

Derk-Jan Heslinga is a lecturer at the Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB)

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