Feb. 22, 2012
University of Iowa introduces new system for scheduling final exams
The University of Iowa has adopted a computerized system for scheduling final exams and has introduced several final-exam policy changes designed to support student academic success.
The UI Office of the Registrar created the spring 2012 final exam schedule using UniTime, free, open-source software that minimizes conflicts between exam times, attempts to limit each student’s number of exams per day, and accounts for travel time between exams.
The university also has revised policies to let students arrange a make-up exam when they’re scheduled for more than two exams in a given day (previous policies permitted up to three exams per day). Additional changes mandate 30 minutes between exam periods and eliminate exams after 5 p.m. the Friday of finals week.
“These changes have been in the works for two years, and are really a result of advocacy by UI Student Government leaders and hard work on the part of the registrar,” says Beth Ingram, associate provost for undergraduate education. “Our old system simply wasn’t working anymore.”
Student government leaders helped shape the changes and shared them with faculty governance groups last fall. “In the past, students have been frustrated by some aspects of finals scheduling,” says Elliot Higgins, UISG president. “The new system and policies represent responsive and practical changes that will be well-received by students and faculty alike.”
Previously, the university scheduled final exam periods using a rotating matrix to assign days and times based on when courses met during the semester and then booked rooms manually. Growth in course offerings, especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays, had reached the point where the old manual system was no longer feasible.
The new system delivers the best results once students have finalized their course changes. Thus the registrar’s office waited until after Jan. 30—the last day for students to drop courses and adjust tuition accordingly—before crunching the numbers.
Staff shared the resulting schedules with faculty and made any necessary adjustments. They’ll email finalized exam schedules to students this week.
The new system provides faculty with a verified list of students who need to book make-up exams -- previously, those lists and the resulting arrangements came much later in the semester.
“Overall, these changes are designed to make sure that students have the best opportunity possible to do well on their final projects and exams,” Ingram says.
STORY SOURCE: University News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa, 52242-2500