Dublin City University-
Dublin City University (DCU) is introducing extended exam deadlines this year after a survey found that one in five of its students faced significant internet access difficulties.
t is among the measures being implemented to support students as traditional face-to-face exams give way to online assessments in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.
All end of year assessments at DCU will be undertaken online, with a number of different formats depending on students’ specific programme.
Before designing the alternative exam regime, DCU President Professor Brian MacCraith said they surveyed students to determine if their ability to access and engage with learning online, since the campus closed on March12.
Almost 4,000 students responded and DCU said academic staff were very concerned with the findings that internet connectivity and speed can be a problem for most students.
Only two in five (42pc) reported internet access and speed was never or very rarely a problem, while, at the other end of the spectrum, 21pc said that it was always (6pc) or very often (15pc) a significant issue.
It also found that almost one in three – 31pc – of those surveyed were reliant on mobile data for access to their college materials, an indication of difficulties with broadband access.
DCU’s Vice President for Academic Affairs Eithne Guilfoyle said they put a major effort into redesigning their approach to alternative final assessments, developing new schedules and evaluating the technical challenges involved.
“Our priorities have been to help our students to complete this academic year, to ensure academic integrity and maintain the value of your DCU degree, but to also take account of these exceptional circumstances and ensure that there are no negative implications, either financial or administrative, for students who have to, or choose to, re-sit exams.”
DCU has advised students that it has extended the exam period by a week, to May 23, to allow for the need to address any unforeseen technical issues that may arise for students in these unprecedented circumstances.
In another measure, DCU will have flexible deadlines to allow for slow uploads and, for students who have difficulty in uploading material, they will have the option to submit their work via email.
Instructions to students regarding file size and formats of assignments will also take account of slow internet connections and daily exam timetables will be extended to enable students to access the internet when there may be less demand from home-workers.
Additionally, in the case of assessments where every student takes the exam at a specified time for a fixed duration, there will be enhanced supports including a DCU Examination Support Centre that students can contact for ‘live’ guidance during the examination.
Among its pre-exam supports for students, DCU will also run a ‘Virtual Exam Bootcamp’ during the week of April 20, which will cover motivation, exam strategies, exam stress and exam performance.