Reimagined Winter Term exams start Wednesday

As more than 19,000 Brock students prepare for their final Winter Term exams, the University’s empty hallways signal a change in the way evaluations are taking place this year.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Brock University’s instructors have reimagined and redesigned final assessments to ensure flexibility within an online learning environment that is new to many learners and teachers.

To execute such a momentous change, Madelyn Law, Brock’s Associate Vice-Provost, Teaching and Learning, said the team from the University’s Centre for Pedagogical Innovation (CPI) has worked with instructors to implement a different type of approach to final assignments.

“Many instructors have changed their courses to have take-home exams or final assignments that students work on over a certain time period instead of trying to have exams online,” she said. “It was important for us to ensure instructors understood that online exams are not the same as traditional exams, in that they should be considered an open-book format if they still take place. This has allowed instructors to think about asking different types of questions on exams that search for evidence about topics and communicate understanding of the course material through short-answer and long-answer formats.”

Law said innovative approaches have also been executed in courses where different types of illustrations are needed.

“For other courses that require written diagrams or formulas, CPI and the instructors have harnessed ways to have students do this work and upload it to SAKAI,” she said.

With exams set to begin Wednesday, April 8, Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President, Academic Brian Power said the necessary changes to this year’s exam format could not have been completed without a standout team providing assistance.

“The CPI is a well-oiled machine and an integrated team who are focused on bringing together instructors’ ideas and educative and technological solutions ‎in an extremely efficient way in this rapidly changing environment,” he said. “We could not have made this transition without them.”

To aid students as they participate in the new exam formats, Brock’s A-Z Learning Services team has posted a variety of tip sheets, including tips for online examinations and overall exam preparation, to provide helpful hints to succeed in a new setting.

While the new examination formats will be a change for all involved, Power said the outstanding student experience Brock is known for remains the same.

“Many Brock students are experiencing, some for the first time, a different method of final evaluation for their courses — from final essays or assignments to timed online exams,” he said. “We want students to know that we have worked hard to ensure that assessments are appropriate and the technology is effective for student learning, especially during this time of major change. Brock is committed to continuing to provide a transformational and accessible academic and university experience for our students — this is an essential a pillar of our Strategic Plan and it remains a top priority during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.”

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