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UISG plans new finals policy

BY KRISTEN EAST | OCTOBER 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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University of Iowa students may never be faced with six hours of testing in one day again.

After approximately 100 students responded to a mass email describing their dissatisfaction with the current finals policy, UI Student Government President Elliot Higgins decided to approach university officials about exploring a new policy that could be in place as early as next semester.

An ideal policy would decrease the maximum number of final exams per day from three to two, Higgins said.

"Students who have taken three finals in one day overwhelmingly describe their experience as arduous and stressful," Higgins said. "If the goal of finals is to gauge the knowledge of students in a certain area, then surely it would be better for students and faculty if the test-taker was required to only take two finals on the same day."

Higgins met with officials in the Office of the Provost on Wednesday to present the students' responses. Beth Ingram, the UI associate provost for undergraduate education, said changing the finals policy would require a lot of discussion among all parties.

"Any change in policies concerning finals scheduling would need to be discussed widely on campus with faculty, staff, and students," she said. "I've asked Elliot to explore the possibility with faculty groups on campus for input."

Spring 2012 would be the earliest a new policy could go into effect because it's too late to change any policies for the current semester, Ingram said.

UI junior Samantha Baehr, who responded to UISG's mass e-mail, favors a new policy. She noted that some exams are more stressful than others.

"Three is such an arbitrary number when talking about finals," said Baehr, a former Daily Iowan employee. "All finals and courses are different. Three finals in one day could be a breeze for students with an easy semester or terrible for students who are taking a difficult course load."

Baehr said students shouldn't be punished on exam day because they chose academically challenging courses.

"Students shouldn't be punished with three finals in succession because they are pushing themselves by taking difficult courses," she said. "I really hope they change the policy from three or more to two or more to lessen the course load."

Higgins said he will now seek feedback from faculty members regarding the potential policy change.

He will meet with the Educational Policy Committee of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences sometime before end of the semester. The committee will include a dean and nine other professors elected by faculty.

"We decided to go with this college because of its large enrollment," Higgins said. "If we are able to get the support of [the liberal-arts] faculty, I am optimistic that the rest of the university will follow suit."

Although he doesn't have any specific proposals for a new policy, Higgins said he'd like to see the creation of a designated day, most likely Friday, for students to take makeup exams.

"Potentially, we would work with the Office of the Provost to have it provide proctors to give these makeup exams," Higgins said. "It would alleviate some of the difficulties that professors have with administering makeup exams."

Higgins said he plans to "definitely" have a new policy in place for the spring 2012 semester finals week.


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