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Exam policies may change

A new policy could bring changes to the way exam week is conducted, including reserving the Sunday before finals week for online exams only and extending the length of exam week from six to seven days.

The proposed changes to USF’s final examination policies have been reviewed and approved by the University’s Undergraduate and Graduate Councils. However, USF’s
regional campuses still need to review them.

Dean of Undergraduate Studies Robert Sullins said that after regional campuses approve the changes, a University Council of faculty members and students would finalize the new examination policies.

If approved, the changes would likely be enacted in the fall 2009 semester, said Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies Glen Besterfield.

Sullins said the proposed changes include clarifications regarding the administration of segmented exams during finals week, priorities for solving conflicts of students who have two or more exams at the same time, and a new policy for online exams.

The current USF final examination policy requires that all cumulative final exams be given during the last six days of the fall and spring semester, Besterfield said.

The new policy proposes that all final exams be given during finals week, even if professors choose to give non-cumulative exams, he said.

The exception to this rule would be if a take-home project or paper were assigned in lieu of a final exam, Sullins said. The final examination policy does not require that final
projects be turned in during finals week.

Rachel Weiss, a junior majoring in education, said this is the first semester in which all of her final exams are being administered during finals week, but added that she doesn’t mind taking exams before finals week begins.

“I like it because it gets (exams) out of the way,” Weiss said. “Last semester, I was done by the Saturday before finals week — it was awesome.”

Erin Costello, a freshman majoring in psychology, said she likes taking some exams before finals week because it allows her to finish the semester sooner.

“But I can understand how it may make some students kind of mad,” Costello said. “Because if they have hard classes, they need to study for them.”

Sullins said that with the new policy department chairs would ultimately be responsible for ensuring that faculty members are not administering exams before finals week.

Instructors are responsible for maintaining a “fair and impartial testing and examination procedure,” according to the policy.

Professors would also have the right to “define and structure” the testing process and cannot be restricted as to “form, style or content” of the examination.

USF maintains certain standards for the examination process to ensure the academic integrity of courses and preserve the best interests of both students and instructors.

For instance, under the policy, professors must allow students two hours to finish each final exam.

Sullins said some universities have a “dead week” before finals week during which no classes are held, but USF has never done this.

If USF held a dead week, Sullins said, final exams would likely be required for all
courses.

“A credit is based on 15 one-hour class meetings,” Sullins said. “So, if you have a dead week with no class, then the final exam becomes the 15th week — otherwise it doesn’t meet accreditation.”