Exams scheduled outside of lecture need guidelines

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Photo Credit: Weatherly Sawyer | Daily Texan Staff

Across UT colleges, certain classes require you to attend exams outside of your scheduled lecture time, typically in 2-hour blocks. Some do this to ensure students in different sections take the exam at the same time, thereby preventing cheating. Some do this for the nicer basis of giving you additional time to complete your exam.

However, it doesn’t matter why a professor chooses to schedule an exam outside of lecture time because the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost does not regulate their choices. They can schedule exams outside of class for cheating problems for example, but the office is not checking their rationale. The office needs established guidelines for why professors do not schedule exams during lecture time.

Shelby Stanfield, vice provost and registrar with the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, says he’s not sure why professors choose to schedule exams outside of class time.

No one is ensuring that professors have logical reasons or that there is an established guideline for having outside of lecture exams.

According to Robert Freeman, accounting department chair, professors can schedule exams whenever they want for any reason they choose. While they must gain approval from Freeman and the Registrar to change the times of their final exams, normal exams are up to the professor’s discretion. No one checks to ensure they have legitimate reasons for their evening exams.

The office’s lack of knowledge behind professors reasoning is stunning considering professors require that students potentially miss extracurriculars or work to take exams that could occur during class.

Freeman outlined multiple reasons professors might have exams outside of lecture time. They have chosen to do so due to personal reasons, to ensure students do not pass on exam information and to lessen their workload so they only have to make one exam. By not checking to make sure reasons are legitimate, the University’s administration is letting them run unchecked. While a majority of professors are unlikely to abuse their power in having outside class exams, the option still exists.

According to Stanfield, the Registrar recommends (but does not require) that professors make additional class time outside of lecture transparent on the syllabus.

This is a recurring problem encountered with the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost. The office’s goal is to guide the academic mission of the University and create policies and procedures related to professors, but it often does not regulate actual classroom procedures. It might make recommendations, but the final decision rests with the professor.

In some cases, members of the office do not know why professors schedule exams outside of class time despite the fact that this occurs in nearly every single college at UT. “I wish I did,” said Stanfield. “I just don’t have the type of information to know.”

To ensure fair, equal policies across all schools that respect students time outside of the classroom, the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost needs to regulate professors’ decisions. It could be as simple as requiring them to submit a reason to the office and to students for why there are exams outside of class time, but something needs to exist.

Without guidelines, there are no limits to requirements professors can do in their classroom. We need guidelines to ensure professor accountability.

Treuthardt is a journalism and marketing sophomore from Allen. Follow him on Twitter @jamestreuthardt.