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At university, face-to-face exams, but also adaptations – France


After months of mainly distance learning, higher education establishments have the possibility of organizing tests on site, while respecting “very strict constraints”, indicates the Ministry of Higher Education. They are, in particular, asked to stagger the arrivals of candidates, to keep 1 m of distance between them or to ventilate the rooms.

Planned “substitution tests”

They must also plan “substitution tests” for students who could not attend, due to a period of isolation linked to covid-19.

“We have about half of the exams that will take place face-to-face”, against 40% in the first semester, said Wednesday, Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education.

The direct

“Guarantee fairness in the face of the test”

“On the whole, the universities use examinations mainly in person,” says, for his part, François Germinet, training manager of the Conference of University Presidents (CPU). At the University of Cergy-Pontoise, which he presides over, approximately 85% of students compose face-to-face because, according to him, this is “the best way to guarantee fairness in the face of the test and its quality”.

At Sorbonne University, science and medicine students are also physically present. “As the crisis lasts, it is not a bad thing to vary the methods of evaluation”, comments Marie-Céline Daniel, vice-president of the Parisian establishment, believing that “it is necessary to find a balance” between the different methods.

On the other hand, literature students are assessed remotely because the disciplines taught in this faculty “lend themselves quite well”.

Organizational constraints, however, remain an obstacle to returning homework to the table. “As soon as the face-to-face is possible, I am extremely favorable, but there are not enough amphitheatres to respect the gauge for the large cohorts of students”, explains Michel Deneken, president of the University of Strasbourg , where only those registered in health will be working on site at the end of the year.

Universities are being asked to take accommodation to ensure that no student is penalized

On the student side, opinions are divided. “No solution is excellent at the moment,” said Mélanie Luce, president of the UNEF. “Whatever model is chosen, universities are asked to take adaptation measures to ensure that no student is penalized in their exams by the health crisis.”

“We are of the opinion to maintain, if possible, the holding of face-to-face exams”, indicates, for his part, Paul Mayaux, president of Fage, who wants the universities “to communicate more promptly” on the examination methods. . “We receive the information quite late, which can be all the more anxiety,” he notes.

The “fear” of cheating

Caroline, a law student at the University of Burgundy, was delighted to take three face-to-face subjects, but learned “shortly” before her tests that they were finally held at a distance. “We ended up with substantial homework, very complex questions and we lacked a lot of time to finish them,” regrets the 21-year-old, linking the complexity of these tests to the “fear” of cheating.

The University of Lyon 2 has chosen to assess the majority of students in continuous or distance assessment, at the start of the second semester. “We wanted to clarify things early enough to give students stability and allow the teaching teams to organize themselves”, describes Nathalie Dompnier, president of the establishment, who observes in “certain sectors” a “strong demand” for “Return to face-to-face exams”.

It is in your interest to test other skills, such as the ability to use resources or work in groups

At a time when the government is preparing for a “100% face-to-face” start in September, some universities, including that of Lyon 2, are considering how to evaluate the coming years.

“Our classic exams, on the table in limited time, are not necessarily well suited to the expectations of young people entering the labor market”, recognizes Nathalie Dompnier. “On the other hand, it is in your interest to test other skills, such as the ability to use resources or to work in groups,” she suggests.

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