4.10.20: Spring Final Exam Guidance for Spring 2020

Update on final exam guidance.

Dear Faculty and Instructional Staff,

As you know, we will soon be entering the final exam period, so it is an appropriate time to address the challenges we can expect with our students currently spread across the country and around the world. The Educational Policy Committee has provided guidance about the conduct of final exams, and we are writing to share their expectations with you.

Most of you have now had the opportunity to experiment with teaching and testing online and will have learned what you and your students are able to manage. For some faculty, remote common exams offered a dry run for finals. However, they are not a perfect analog. First, common exams are offered for a relatively few courses at a time. Second, they always occur in the mid-afternoon and early evening.

Final exams represent a much larger challenge. Faculty will have already noticed how much time zones can matter for online class participation. Students have pointed out that lack of privacy for long exams and limited Internet bandwidth can affect their exam performance. Given these difficulties, we can expect that our regular final exam rules and time schedules may not work well for all students in all time zones.

The Educational Policy Committee—in our current remote learning environment, with students in many different parts of the world—has established the following expectations for offering what were originally planned as in-class final exams.:

  • First, a student is allowed to request an alternate exam time for any exam that falls between midnight and 8:00 AM in the time zone where they are residing, even if the student does not have a conflicting exam. This alternate exam may fall on either the original exam date or on the last final exam date, which is Wednesday, May 13.
  • Second, given the remote learning structure this semester, the Educational Policy Committee has specified that open-book exams that replace exams originally scheduled as in-class exams may not take more than three hours to complete, and that they may be taken at any point in the 24- hour period that ends with the end of the official exam time. (This means that students may begin the exam at different times during that 24 hours.) There is no solution that will fit all cases. As with your remote teaching methods, we will rely on you to be as flexible as you can be with your testing and assessment. Please consult with each other and seek the support of CITL regarding technology and pedagogy.
  • Finally, we extend on behalf of the Educational Policy Committee a request regarding conversion of an in-class exam to a lengthy take-home exam. R&P does allow for multi-day take-home exams, with some limits. (From R&P “Take home exam - no take home exams can be due until at least 72 hours after the beginning of the exam period and must be due by the last day of the final exam period.”) The faculty set this R&P policy to ensure that students have enough flexibility in their schedules to manage a take-home exam. If students suddenly have several lengthy take-home exams, however, they will have difficulty with these competing obligations—especially if they must share Internet bandwidth with parents who are working and siblings who are also in scho ol. We ask you to be sensitive to these concerns.

Again, thank you. We sincerely appreciate your support for our Lehigh community. We remain remarkably impressed with what all our faculty and staff are doing for our students during this very difficult time.


Jennifer Jensen
Deputy Provost for Academic Affairs

Steven Wilson
Assistant Provost for Academic Affairs and Registrar