Finals week at Ohio University produces many new feelings of apprehensiveness. With an abnormal school year, students are on the brink of a new challenge.
With the move to online schooling in the Spring Semester of the 2019-2020 school year, some students are used to online exams. However, some believe the discrepancy with this semester is the lack of in-person learning. Little to no classes have taken place this school year, and many students are finishing school in the comforts of their bedrooms.
Students feel that although professors are making an effort, it’s difficult to feel supported through a screen. Some students find themselves feeling underprepared for upcoming exams.
“I think some of my teachers have done well at preparing us,” Ella Calhoun, a freshman studying commercial photography, said. “I just got off of a meeting where we were doing a whole review. There's one of my classes that doesn't even meet, so she is not really preparing us for the exam – a whole lot of us are kind of on our own for that.”
The digital divide is the reckoning for many students. Professors had to make a quick jump from teaching in person to teaching fully online. However, students are still able to find ways to reach out and seek the help they need.
“I have a slight struggle due to less in person time but my teachers are very accommodating and answer my questions via email quickly, which is very helpful,” Bailey Heinzelman, a sophomore studying nursing, said in a message. “It is different from past years because everything is online so the response time is different and tends to be longer.”
Exam week prevails as a stressful time for many. This year students have had to independently walk themselves through the semester. With exams, other responsibilities tend to add up quickly.
“I feel like I’m trying to prepare for the next semester,” Ethan Bloomfield, a freshman studying journalism, said. “I just took the grammar test for Journalism 2311. It was that, and doing my FAFSA, registering for classes, along with studying for exams and getting this PowerPoint done – it's a lot.”
Professors seem to be executing an array of different mediums for exams. This ranges from essays, online tests, PowerPoints and other new ways of producing a final grade that best fits the class.
Online has provided a challenge, nonetheless, and can enhance the uncertainty felt during these already uncertain times.
“When it comes to technology I've had too many last minute run-ins,” Eddith Dashiell, director of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, said. “So while I'm doing my best trying to teach online, I feel like I spend more time struggling with the technology than I do trying to update the content, which I find aggravating.”
Students and professors find themselves overwhelmed. Students have resorted to different types of study methods to organize their thoughts.
Calhoun, Heinzelman and Bloomfield feel they have been well prepared and they have the tools to succeed, but they all agree that stress comes with being a college student.
“I'm not that stressed, just because I know they're online,” Calhoun said. “I feel like if I were in person, I'd be a lot more stressed, but the most stressful one was probably my photography project that I had to do for my exam, but other than that the actual written exams don't really feel that stressful right now.”
Continuing, Calhoun elaborated on how difficult it is to be in a major that requires hands-on learning and in-person interaction.
“It's really stressful and kind of horrible to not be in person for photography,” Calhoun said. “I love to do things like portraits, and so, I don't have a studio space or a lot of people to take pictures of. I really have to go out of my way to find people to take pictures of. It's a lot more difficult rather than just like being on campus and being with people in my major who would let me take pictures and who could be like an assistant.”
With the pandemic, professors have learned that students are not living in an ideal world of college, but, amidst the struggle, there are positives to being in an online learning situation.
The daunting stress of in-person exams is desolate and professors have been able to become more acquainted with a future of online test taking.
“If there's one positive thing about online learning, it forced me to learn how to create online exams,” Dashiell said. “I realize that once the exam is created and you can do a lot of things to make changing questions a lot easier, and in the long run, it’s less time consuming than the old-fashioned printed out and distributed during class.”
Though final exam preparation looks different for every student and professor this semester, Ohio University plans to evolve and utilize the new skills learned within the world of online college and apply the knowledge to future semesters.