It’s that time of the year again, when we run a practical exam of 10 stations, for 265 undergraduates in LSM1103 Biodiversity. We do this on a Saturday when venues are free and there is relative peace on campus. Even then this year, a graduate seminar class kindly shifted to make space for us.
Students are allocated to three sessions and we quarantine them in isolated locations. We keep students in post-exam lock down entertained with Attenborough masterpieces to which they make appreciative sounds. We are able to complete the exercise by 12.00pm, so its not too painful for everyone.
These days we communicate between venues using LINE, having abandoned GRID and walkie talkies as the procedure improves, and we reduce the need for communication.
Version 2 of the exercise procedure (see whiteboard below) was an efficient and secure design but required movement of secured bags. Movement is never desirable and required the use of several large trash bags of varying colours – a waste of plastic too.
With my crew (FTTAs Amanda Tan & Xu Weiting & LO Morgany T) experienced, after executing version 2 for two semesters, its time to improve the design further. Version 3 eliminates some steps but will cost us some time, possibly 20 minutes. But we can afford the time.
Student preparation for this began in Week 1, when I highlighted the Saturday exam. I mentioned the practical exam in a few of the earlier lectures. Finally students were emailed a pdf of the procedure last week. And we placed notices in the module’s IVLE Weblinks and Announcement pages.
And having placed students in groups of 15 from Week 1, they do have a network to rely on to clarify doubts, if they don’t feel like asking us questions.
This evening, I completed my echinoderm lecture early and FTTA Amanda Tan Hui-Ning briefed the students about the procedure. This was no casual visit, for we had discussed this carefully yesterday to ensure it made sense from a student’s perspective.
Amanda was deliberate and the sequence was meaningful, and it was clear as it could be!
We still have TA briefings to go, dry run and other preparations. After all that effort, it is always a smooth operation although we are pared for trouble, as always.
Then it’s time to prepare the 3rd year’s LSM3261 zoology practical exam.