I decided to experiment with a take-home exam for my Feminism module. It wasn’t pre-released, but well in advance I gave the students a good general idea of what would be on the exam and I also gave them a wide choice of questions. I thought the take-home format would be good as (a) they wouldn’t have the stress of exam conditions; (b) they’d get to use computers to type their answers; (c) they’d have access to all readings.

I posted the exam questions on MOLE and their submissions were due 24 hours later.

It was a disaster. Students found it much more stressful, because they felt that they should write for the entire 24 hours. This also meant that students with other commitments felt disadvantaged relative to classmates who had the 24 hours free. I was generous with extensions for those with these commitments, but it didn’t alleviate the stress.

I will never do that again.

From Professor Jenny Saul, University of Sheffield Philosophy Department

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