Lab courses have continued to teach, utilizing the digital software and resources that Lehigh offers. Some online applications are difficult to use on personal laptops at home, so the transition has been challenging. (Noah Jalango/B&W Staff)

Common hour exams face scheduling conflicts


Approximately 300 students faced conflicts with common hour exams during fall 2019, said Doug Mahony, chair of the Faculty Senate.

He said while there were multiple conflicts with athletics and other extracurricular activities, the majority of these issues were a result of scheduling conflicts.

The Faculty Senate is working toward a long-term solution for conflicts regarding common hour exams, which have become increasingly prevalent following the recent change in Lehigh’s class schedule, Mahony said.

During a December 2019 meeting, the Faculty Senate voted to amend Section 3.7.2 of the Rules and Procedures of the Faculty, which addresses conflicts between common hour exams and regularly-scheduled classes, as well as conflicts between two common hour exams.

The amendment states that in the case of a conflict between a common hour exam and a class, the class takes priority, and a make-up exam must be provided. In the case of a conflict between multiple exams, the course with the smaller enrollment of students takes precedence.

Despite these temporary amendments, faculty members are looking to accommodate recent schedule changes, class sizes, the amount of classes that hold common hour exams and students with extra time accommodations.

Mahony said there has been a long history of conflicts with common hour exams, but the recent increase is a result of multiple factors.

“It had to do with classes being extended to 4:15 p.m.,” Mahony said. “It also had to do with the compressed time for common hour exams and the decision to have two exams offered in one evening.”

Luke Hanna, ‘23, had a common hour exam for ECO 001 scheduled at the same time as his  CHEM 030 lab. 

Hanna’s chemistry lab took precedence over his economics exam. Hanna said he had to work with his economics professor to find time to make up the common hour exam. 

“It was stressful because I had to go from a three-hour chem lab right to an (economics) exam,” Hanna said.

A long-term solution for these conflicts is in progress. The Faculty Senate’s sub-committee on academic and student affairs is aiming to implement a plan before students register for fall 2020 classes.

Ray Pearson, a member of the Faculty Senate and the sub-committee on academic and student affairs, said this new plan will likely limit the number of courses that qualify for holding a common hour exam, introduce exams at different times than the times in past semesters and only hold one exam per evening, as opposed to two.

Pearson said in the past, courses with an enrollment of 100 students or more were permitted to hold a common hour exam. However, due to an increase in Lehigh’s undergraduate population, enrollment in many courses has increased. As a result, the enrollment requirement for offering a common hour exam will likely change.

“We felt that the 100-student limit was sort of outdated,” Pearson said. “If we increase the size of a class to be qualified for a common hour exam, we can decrease the number of exams that are held from 17, to about seven or eight.”

Mahony said the Faculty Senate is focused on creating a workable solution for faculty and students that doesn’t adversely impact one group or favor the other.

“It’s really about balancing the interests and the needs of our students with the realities of scheduling and time constraints,” Mahony said.

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