The new normal

Last semester I taught two sections of SRA 111, with a total of around 100 primarily first- and second-year students enrolled. For each of the six ANGEL-based quizzes during the semester, I have a policy that students can use a double-sided sheet of their own handwritten notes, but cannot refer to any other materials.

The first three quizzes were held in class and I was able to enforce this restriction. For a variety of reasons, I allowed the students to take the fourth quiz on their own, at their own convenience; but I made clear that the same rules were in effect and that I was placing trust in them to observe our academic integrity policy. After the quiz, I asked students to complete an anonymous survey; 81 of 97 did. The results were interesting:

  • 43 students referred to our course PowerPoints during the quiz
  • 8 discussed the quiz questions or answers with classmates during the quiz
  • 11 searched the Web for answers to the quiz questions

I received a lot of interesting open-ended feedback, as well. One response can be paraphrased as: “Though I’m not proud of violating the academic integrity policy, I’ve spoken to other students and we’ve decided that professors should expect this to happen. I took notes and studied, but there were things that I couldn’t recall, and even if I can get the answer, I am learning when I look it up.”

I also asked students if they preferred in-class or out-of-class quizzes. 64.2% strongly preferred or somewhat preferred out-of-class quizzes (I wonder why); 17.3% strongly preferred or somewhat preferred in-class quizzes; and 18.5% had no preference.