Online learning means professors must alter exams

While Baldwin Wallace undergoes online-structured courses, changes to online exams have become prevalent. The structure for standardized exams, such as no notes or any sources to gather information, has been altered in some classes.

Professor of Spanish, Matthew Feinberg, understands the change and tries to work with students as best as possible, given the university is under “a very unique set of circumstances.”

“My students are under a whole range of stressors that they normally wouldn’t be negotiating,” said Feinberg. “Therefore, I have tried to be as accommodating as possible to students by giving them increased flexibility with assignments.”

Some of the accommodation include longer timeframes where students can log on during specific hours, said Feinberg.

“Online testing has been useful in this regard since exams can be set up, so students have a window in which to begin to take the exam, but then need to do it in one sitting,” said Feinberg.

Feinberg notes one of “the biggest issue[s] is the risk of academic dishonesty.”

“Blackboard mitigates some [academic dishonesty] by allowing you to randomize the questions as well as the answers, but there are certainly ways around this feature,” said Feinberg. “Of course, it doesn’t prevent students from just taking out the book.”

Though the risk of academic dishonesty lingers, Feinberg has “belief in the integrity of [his] students” with the assistance of “honor pledges” for each exam.

“I try to evoke some of this spirit of personal integrity by having my students sign an honor pledge when completing online exams,” said Feinberg. “Given the circumstances and the need to do all of this on the fly, I need to trust them and have some faith that they approach their academic work in an ethical way. I honestly trust that students at BW take their work and themselves seriously enough not to cheat.”

Feinberg said if he started his course out as an online class, he would have more than likely prepared differently.

“If I were to build this course out from the beginning as an online course, there might be steps that I take to approach evaluation in other ways,” said Feinberg. “For now, I am using the tools at my disposal to help my students continue to learn as best I can through this difficult time.”