Ryerson chemistry exam included answers

Students won’t be penalized for giving into "temptation"

First-year chemistry students at Ryerson University must have been screaming inside when they realized the test handed out in the exam room included answers for 20 of the 50 questions.

Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. The professors discovered what had occurred and followed up with an e-mail telling students they will be graded on the remaining 30 questions unless they opt to rewrite the test. Here’s their full correspondence.

Dear Students,

This is a long message, but it contains important information. Please read it carefully. As you know, one version of the CHY102 exam included an answer key. That version was taken by 162 students in section 011 (Dr Foucher’s class). The answer key covered questions 1 to 20 of the 50 questions on the exam. We (Drs McWilliams, Heyd and Foucher) have taken this situation very seriously and throughout the interval between the test and today have consulted with the offices of the Department of Chemistry and Biology, the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (including the First Year and Common Engineering Office), the Faculty of Science, the Provost and the Vice Provost, Academic. The key was removed quickly, and we had hoped that it would have negligible impact; however, we decided to analyse the data before rendering a decision. Unfortunately, our analysis indicated that several students benefited from the answer sheet. Because of that, we have had to find a way to resolve the issue that is as fair as possible, under the circumstances, to everyone in the course, and maintains academic integrity. The Resolution: (1) All students who wrote the final exam without the answer key will have their final grades calculated and entered as per the course outline. Their grades were unaffected by our error, and so they will receive their grades in the usual way. (2) Nobody will be charged with academic misconduct for using the answer key. The temptation to use an answer key supplied with the test is just too great, and so charges would be unfair. Those who were worried about that can put their minds at ease. (3) All students who wrote the final exam with the answer key will be given a choice either to accept their mark on the final examination, as calculated from the last 30 questions, or to write another final examination in early January. The procedure for this is outlined below under “Next steps.” The deadline for requesting a make-up exam may have to be later than the deadline for submitting grades. In that case, all grades for students in the cohort that wrote with the key will not receive their final grade for CHY102 until this is sorted out after the holidays. Rationale: Our analysis shows that the average on the last 30 questions for the cohort that wrote the exam with the key does not differ significantly from the average of the test for rest of the class. There is no evidence that anyone attained any benefit from the answer key on the last 30 questions. Therefore performance on the last 30 questions is representative of students’ knowledge of the course. However, that may not be true for all students, and because the test for this cohort was evaluated differently from the rest of the class, we feel it is fair to offer a chance to write a new final exam to those affected students who want it. Another option, to order a new exam for the entire cohort, would be unfair to the students who sat through the three-hour exam, did not benefit from the answer key, and do not want to be burdened with another exam in January. The new final exam has been scheduled for Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 9 am – 12 noon. Next steps: (1) The marks for the final exam will be posted on Blackboard in the coming days. (2) The exam marks for those who wrote the exam with the key will be based on the last 30 questions. (3) Students who wrote the exam with the answer key will find a note in the “My Grades” section of Blackboard indicating that they are eligible to write the make-up exam. (4) An email will be sent only to the eligible students in the coming days. There will be a link in the email directing them to an online form, which they must fill out and submit in order to register for the make-up test. (5) Students who wrote the final with the key and do not wish to write the exam in January do not have to do anything. Their grades will be calculated with the final exam mark out of 30, which will count for 50% of their grade. (6) Students who opt to rewrite their exam must fill in the online form by the deadline in the email message. The deadline will be firm: We need time to arrange space, hire invigilators and print exams. (7) Students who decide to re-write in January will have their final grade calculated using the result of their second final exam and their mid-term tests. That is to say, if you choose to write the make-up, it is possible that your grade could go down or up. If you have any questions, please contact your instructor.

Kind regards, Drs McWilliams, Foucher and Heyd.