Student react to virtual finals week and reflect on fall semester

EKU students practice social distancing while waiting in line outside of Case Dining Hall during the Fall semester. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many changes around campus should as online classes and students, faculty and staff having to wear masks. 

As the Fall 2020 semester comes to an end, finals week is approaching fast and students are reflecting on the past semester.

Riley Linnehan, 22, a public relations major from New Albany, Indiana, said this semester as a whole has presented a wide array of challenges. 

“In spite of being amid the COVID chaos, I am making sure to take every precaution necessary to maintain good academic standing,” Linnehan said. 

He added he has been studying in his spare time and making sure he is able to prioritize his mental and physical health. 

Tanner Gilmore, 20, a broadcast and electronic media major from London, KY, said this semester has definitely been a learning experience when it comes to staying focused and getting work done. But Gilmore said he was not sure what to expect when it came to virtual finals. 

“I’m also making sure that during the time of the final that I’m in a quiet place where I won’t have anything distracting me while I try to work,” Gilmore said. 

Spencer Hopkins, 20, an occupational science major from Plainville, Massachusetts, said COVID-19 has decreased her cognitive abilities in many ways. 

“I do not have the two separate environments of school and home,” Hopkins said. “COVID-19 has combined them which has made it much more difficult to learn.” 

Hopkins said she has mixed feelings towards the idea of online finals.

“I personally like it because of the flexible scheduling,” Hopkins said. “In the past it has been a hassle to travel back and forth to campus between the holidays, since I am from Massachusetts.” 

Although she has positive thoughts on the matter, she said she also has new, negative stress factors to worry about. 

“These include the fear of my Wifi not working, the pressure of being timed is different online than in person, and not being able to converse with my professors as easily,” Hopkins said.

Students are not the only ones facing challenges; educators are being equally affected.

“COVID-19 has forced me to grow my teaching repertoire,” said Abra Endsley, a senior lecturer in public relations. 

She said she has changed schedules, assignments and even some class policies in order to adapt. Although face-to-face interaction and hands-on activities will always be her favorite methods of teaching, Endsley remains optimistic. 

“It is nice to know that there are alternatives if we need them,” Endsley said.

Communication continues to be an obstacle faced by professors. 

“Remote learning has made communication feel largely like a one-way street,” said Cindy Tran, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry. 

Tran said she sends weekly announcements, gives written and audio feedback, and hosts multiple office hours each week, but she does not hear from her students unless there is a problem. 

“The interaction with students is my favorite part of being a professor,” Tran said. “Having so little of that has been really hard this semester.”

The Fall 2020 semester is soon to end as finals week approaches. For a finals week schedule, visit https://colonelscompass.eku.edu/final-exam-schedule-fall-2020.

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