Self-scheduled final exams, made possible by Bryn Mawr's Honor Code, are an aspect of Bryn Mawr’s academic life highly valued by students. They allow students great flexibility and require them to develop self-discipline and time-management skills. Please use the scheduled final exam option only when required by the nature of the exam (for example, slide exams, language exams with a listening component).
To arrange for a self-scheduled final, submit a copy of your exam to the Registrar before the examination period begins. The Registrar, assisted by the student curriculum committee and student volunteers, will then oversee the administration of your exam, which your students may take during any time block within the examination period. The Registrar will hold onto your completed exams until you come to pick them up.
There may be situations in which an extended take-home exam is truly the most effective way to assess student learning, but faculty should be aware of problems which can arise. The Honor Board reminds us that when students have exam materials in their possession for extended periods, and when the picking-up and dropping-off of exams is loosely monitored (material picked up from and returned to a box or envelope, for example), there is significantly increased likelihood that exams can go missing. Missing exams always require Honor Board investigation, which is difficult for all involved. Further, unless instructions are stated extremely clearly, students are likely to be unclear about what is acceptable in doing such an exam: Does time spent proofreading an answer count? Are they permitted to take breaks in the process of doing the exam? In an open-book exam, are they to consult course texts only or can they essentially do further research? Finally, we have found that when students are given a 24 or 48 hour take-home exam, many will spend the full time doing the exam. This means they will not eat or sleep, convinced that all their classmates are working for the whole of the allotted time and that they will be disadvantaged if they don't. At a time of the year when stress levels are already high, this kind of frenzy is not helpful to the student nor is it conducive to a student doing her best.
If by creating a take-home exam your intent was to be generous--to optimize your students’ autonomy and flexibility--please create a self-scheduled exam instead.
Deferred exams: In the rare event that a student is prevented from taking a self-scheduled exam during the exam period by a medical or personal emergency, the exam can be deferred by the student's dean. Exams deferred from May are taken the following June or September; exams deferred in December are taken the following January. Faculty Rules do not allow for any other kind of extension for self-scheduled exams. Obviously, since deferred exams create a significant burden for the student, they are granted only in very serious circumstances.
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