The University of Rhode Island’s Faculty Senate is currently discussing a proposed calendar change that would decrease final exam times from three hours to two hours, beginning in 2021.
The Chair of the Faculty Senate Calendar Subcommittee, Samantha Meenach, an associate professor in the college of engineering, heads the committee that proposed this change.
According to Meenach, the proposal would change the current exam schedule from four time slots per day, that are each three hours long, to five time slots a day that are each two hours.
An email was sent out last Tuesday from URI Communications with a link to a survey encouraging students to leave their thoughts on the shortening of exam times.
The survey asked students how much time they are typically given to complete their finals. They were also asked what type of exams they have taken in the past and if they would prefer two-hour exams, three-hour exams, or a combination of two and
“We’re just trying to collect information on feasibility, what type of exams people typically give,” Meenach said. “There was a lot of discussion on it last year in the Faculty Senate, but we hadn’t had a chance to do the survey at the end of the semester.”
According to Meenach, the proposition to re-examine the finals times came from herself. At her previous University, they did two hour final exams.
The committee also examined surrounding New England state universities in their research to see what the standard exam practices typically are. According to Meenach, there was a variation across the universities. However, about half does three-hours blocks and the other half does two hour blocks.
“There’s precedence to do kind of whatever we want,” Meenach said. “The precedence is there. It seems like the support from the faculty is there. There’s always going to be people who don’t like change and who don’t like that this is happening. But the other thing that I know is that we used to do two hour exams here, it must’ve been 20 years ago, but it used to be that way.”
With five days left for students to leave feedback on the survey, Meenach had already received 800 responses. Approximately 46 percent of students voted for two hour exams, about 25 percent of students voted for three hour exams, and about 25 percent of students voted for a mix of both. According to Meenach, the faculty’s results were almost exactly the same as the student’s votes.
Sophomore Xaviera Valencia sees a mix of both two-hour and three-hour time slots as the best way to set up exam times.
“I think for some classes [two hour exams] would be very difficult, but for the majority, especially for gen-ed classes you can get it done in two hours,” Valencia said. “The three hour periods can be beneficial for certain classes. I think it would be a problem if you had to stay the entire period, but I have never had a professor when I finish the exam that made me wait. You don’t finish a 45 minute exam and they say ‘you have to be here for three hours.’ That never happens so it’s not really a problem.”
Sophomore Sydney Chabot is a student with a learning disability that often needs extra time to take tests. The shortening of exam times would affect how she has to take exams and would likely result in her having to use the testing center more frequently.
“It would affect me depending on the class,” Chabot said. “For me personally, I would struggle [with two hours], especially if it was a class that needed an essay to be done then. But I have an accommodation through Disability Services that would allow me more time through a testing center, so it wouldn’t really be a problem.”
The calendar committee will meet on Friday, Oct. 4 and examine the data from students and faculty. It has to be approved by various committees in the Faculty Senate and then ultimately voted on by the entire Faculty Senate to be passed.