Letter to the editor: Take-home exams are not the solution

Oct. 8, 2012, 11:42 p.m.

As a member of the Board of Judicial Affairs and a judicial panelist last year, I would like to comment on the Editorial Board’s suggestion that all exams at Stanford be take-home exams. This would not be the ideal solution to solving honor code violations; in fact, it would most likely increase the rate of unwarranted collaboration, just as happened in the Harvard case last spring.

The Honor Code clearly states that “The faculty will also avoid… academic procedures that create temptations to violate the Honor Code.” Multiple faculty members have told me that they no longer give any take-home exams because they believe it creates an opportunity that is too tempting for some students to resist. Faculty have also said that the judicial process is already long and arduous enough, so trying to prove cases of collaboration on take-home exams is yet another hurdle that makes reporting an Honor Code violation hardly worthwhile.

Since some classes have more lenient collaboration policies than others, students can often be confused by expectations on take-home exams. During my four years at Stanford, I never felt that I would have benefited from the opportunity to take the exam in the comfort of my room, at the time I desired. If Stanford is, in fact, supposed to prepare us for the real world, we must learn to perform under time pressures and situations that may not always be the most convenient for our personal schedules.

In conclusion, I think that the Editorial Board was misguided in its suggestion to increase the frequency of take-home exams; and, in fact, I believe take-home exams should be discouraged whenever possible.

Rachel Vassar ’12

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