Students and faculty prepare for return to in-person exams

Cory Sparks, Editor in Chief

Forget about looking up answers to a virtual exam online or in your notes. It’s back to reality as UW Oshkosh goes back to mostly in-person classes.

With the initial change from in-person to online instruction taking place over a year and a half ago, some students reflected on how they felt about each method of teaching when comparing the two.

UWO junior Ellyn Noel said she was able to adjust to online school with some self-motivation, but she added online schooling had its fallbacks.

“The initial transition from in-person to online was difficult at first, but I eventually grew to like it,” Noel said. “I benefited from online school due to being able to self-motivate

Girl is looking at notes and studying
April Lee / Advance-Titan
Students at UWO are able to take quizzes and exams in-person, having to readapt to old habits. Students are no longer able to rely on their notes for quizzes and exams, unless professors allow

myself more. A disadvantage of [online school] was it was harder to get help, and there were more distractions.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced many academic institutions to move coursework online, exams, which make up the majority of UWO students’ grades, were also moved online.

UWO Geology professor Eric Hiatt said that he gave exams online and that most of his content was based on visuals associated with content taught in class.

“Because much of geology deals with concepts that can be represented visually, I created exams that were based on diagrams and photos,” Hiatt said.

With most exams taking place online for the duration of last year, the opportunity of using notes presented itself.

Some professors allowed open-note-style exams, and Noel said that her test scores benefited from being allowed to have that resource.

“I saw an increase in my test scores thanks to open note exams,” she said.

The instances of increased exam scores varied, though, as Hiatt said he did not see a spike in scoring once class instruction was switched to an online format.

Hiatt said he had some concerns about students going on the internet to get answers to his exams, so in order to compensate for the possibility of cheating, he made many of his questions diagram-based.

“I was concerned about students looking up answers and using notes,” he said. “By creating exam questions based on diagrams and photos and giving students time limits for questions, I felt like I made it difficult for students to research answers.”

With classes back in person, Hiatt is among many professors who will be giving exams in person for the fall 2021-22 semester.

“I haven’t given any exams yet, but I plan to go back to in-person, paper-based exams this semester,” Hiatt said.

With an almost university-wide shift back to in-person classes, students will have adjustment periods arguably just as jarring as the initial one experienced in March 2020 when the pandemic pushed everyone to online classes.

Noel said that she is pleased to be back in person, but that there are components of being online that she will miss.

“I am happy classes are back in person, but I will miss online classes too,” Noel said.

With the option of using notes or online resources no longer being possible, Hiatt said students should rely on themselves and their own study habits in order to succeed in what will be a semester full of adjustments.

“It is time to utilize good study strategies, do the right thing, and be more self-reliant,” he said.