USG votes to support final exam schedule change

Daily Egyptian file photo

Daily Egyptian file photo

By Cory Ray

Undergraduate Student Government senators overwhelmingly voted to support a measure that would change the way final exams are scheduled at their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday.

The proposal changes the way final exams are scheduled each semester, moving away from a fixed schedule based on class times to one that is designed to minimize the number of exams taken by a student in a single day.

The new system is a randomized approach using an algorithm created by three professors who drafted the proposal. It runs through millions of scenarios for scheduling and the schedule that will result in the fewest number of students taking multiple exams on the same day is chosen.

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“We’ve been running, I think, four million simulations and picking the lowest number there,” geology professor Steve Esling said.

While no senators voted “no,” a few did abstain from the vote altogether.

In the past two semesters, around 11 percent of students were scheduled to take at least three finals on the same day, according to data compiled by the professors that proposed the new schedule.

The professors are working to cut that number in half, which would mean around 800 students taking three or more exams on the same day, using fall and spring data from the previous academic year.

Another point of frustration for students raised by geology professor Ken Anderson, who proposed the measure to USG, was back-to-back scheduling of the math and English common exams, which are classes he said many students take during the same semester.

“What we’ve proved now quantitatively is the current schedule sucks,” Anderson said during a previous meeting with senators. “To put it bluntly, it’s about as close as it gets to being a worst-case scenario.”

Now that USG supports the measure, it will be passed onto the Faculty Senate, where faculty will again review it and vote whether to support or reject the proposal.

If supported by the Faculty Senate, it will move to the provost’s desk, where it could ultimately be approved.

“This is a strong piece of legislation,” USG Press Secretary Nate Jordan said.

USG senators also supported more accommodations for students who have three exams back-to-back on the same day.

Under the current system, students can only change their exam schedule if they have four or more exams on the same day.

Senators did not, however, vote on how schedules should be randomized: in one method, schedules would not be available until a month after the start of the semester, and in another, exams would be scheduled based on the previous corresponding semester.

Anderson said he would like the randomized approach to be implemented as early as next semester.

“I’m just really excited to see how things will change,” said senator Brandon Kyles, a senior from Chicago studying journalism who voted in favor of the measure.

Staff writer Cory Ray can be reached at cray@dailyegyptian.com or on Twitter @coryray_de.

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