During exams

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I have been wondering lately about whether or not I should change my attitude towards my students during exams. I have always walked incessantly during the exams, trying to discourage people from looking over their shoulders to their neighbor's paper, but also to be able to answer questions in case they need to ask some things. In fact I have been asked various questions during exams and sometimes wonder if I may be giving answers that should not be given. I do not ever give anyone full answers during tests, but I do sometimes try and remind them of relevant material, sometimes of relevant techniques, and so on. I can see how this may hurt students who are too shy or too proud to ask questions, but on the other hand it really is great to see students light up when something I have said makes something in their heads click and they actually are thinking and learning at the time. I do believe that exams are a part of the learning process, and not merely a tool for assessment of what has been learned.

I would like to hear what others think of this. Do you think it is unacceptable to answer any questions during exams which may help students? Or do you think that students may actually benefit from some guidance and it is not really that bad after all, as long as they are doing the thinking and the actual work, with some small nudge from the instructor?

Visiting ass't. prof.:
You have already answered your own question with regard to the propriety of answering questions from students during exams.  It seems as if your current technique squares with your teaching philosophy, and that's great.

Concerning the students who may be hestitant to ask for help during the exams, you may want to make a general announcement at the beginning of the exam about your availability to consult.  That way, all students can feel comfortable knowing that it is okay to ask you quesitons.

CC adjunct:
One thing I like to do is add exam updates on the board.  I put any small information that I may have hinted at or forgotten in the exam up so it is fair for all involved.  Some things cannot be handled that way, but I try to avoid too much hinting (really depends on your field).  For example, if I were to remind a student to think about a certain person's theory for a particular question, I might also put that person's name on the board along with the question number.

Thanks for the input. I sincerely appreciate it :) I will try and incorporate your suggestions (i.e. the announcement at the beginning and the exam updates on the board) to my usual routine...

I often repeat the questions I receive out loud (if I'm going to give them an answer, that is).  If someone asks for a clarification on question number two, and I think I can provide it, I just announce it to the entire class: "On question two, where it says blah, blah, blah, you might just want to think about X-Y-Z."  That way, even if I'm giving a student a helping hand, that hand is being extended to everyone else as well.


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