COVID-19 Final examinations

Dear Colleagues,

As we approach the end of the semester, I want to share with you some thoughts and suggestions about final examinations at UIS.  First, I want to affirm that final examinations will be held during their regularly scheduled week – May 4-9.  Second, the semester will end as identified in the academic calendar – with the submission of final grades on Wednesday, May 13 at noon.  Third, within their course syllabus faculty may have planned an academic activity (paper, examination, oral report, etc) for the final examination.  This is where clarity begins to give way to uncertainty.  In an effort to provide suggestion and guidance I offer you the following thoughts.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of us, but not all of us equally or in the same way.  UIS is committed to a compassionate and caring response to this pandemic, and communication is the only way for us to convey to each other and to our students how we are adapting to these circumstances in such a way as to assure them of our commitment to holding them harmless.  This is a time when each of us will have to make decisions about final examinations and grading based on our own unique values and sensibilities.  Can I change the final examination that is listed in my syllabus?  Can I change the grading scale printed in my syllabus?  Can my syllabus, which is a contract between students and faculty, be changed?  The answers to all of these questions is yes, provided that you communicate the changes you propose and the reasons why these changes will not increase the adversity students are facing.  I encourage each of you to reflect on the decisions that you face knowing that your choices will not be second guessed by administration.

There are two additional topics I would like to address.  The first involves test monitoring and the second focuses on alternative assessments in lieu of planned final examinations.  Respondus Lockdown Browser and Respondus Monitor can be setup to record test taking events.  Instructions are available at Respondus – lockdown & monitor.  Respondus is available as a university subscription and does not cost students any additional fees.  I strongly encourage the use of Respondus on behalf of our students.  Examity can be used for live proctoring events.  There is an additional fee charged to students at the time they register for the exam.  To use Examity, you must e-mail COLRS to let us know the course that will have a proctored exam. Instructions are available at setting up an exam for use with Examity Online Proctoring Service.  In some disciplines, online students currently expect to pay for Examity proctoring.  While the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted Examity service, it is hoped that it will be back online by final exam week.  Online students have also been impacted by the pandemic and I encourage faculty to consider whether incurring these charges for any of our students at this time is necessary.

The last topic that I offer for your consideration is the use of alternative assessments in place of your planned final examinations.  I encourage you to contact to talk with a COLRS staff member about ideas that might be used as alternative assessments in your class to meet the final exam component of your class.  In addition, the following faculty members have experience teaching online and have agreed to serve as a resource for colleagues as they move to teaching remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic and may also be prepared to offer ideas about alternative assessments to your planned final examinations.

In closing, I have been inspired by observing the creative and caring approach that students, faculty, and staff have exhibited during the pandemic.  Each and every day I learn of an innovative approach to teaching and learning being used by our faculty, or I learn that a student suddenly without access to a computer has been provided with the tools needed for success, or that a staff member has provided special attention and care toward a student or faculty members to assist in meeting a request.  We are, each of us, leadership lived.


Dennis R. Papini
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost

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