Maintaining Productivity on Testing Days

Here is a question I was asked recently:

Q. Meggin, what did you used to do when you taught and it was a test day? How do you maintain productivity when you have an hour (or several hours) block of time where you have to be in the room proctoring the exam, be available for questions, but don’t want to just stare at the wall or email for that entire time?

Meggin’s Answer:

Frankly, I didn’t do tons and tons of testing. More often I used projects and papers rather than tests. I did end up proctoring a few different exams over the years. In particular, masters exams and other types of tests where students would be testing for 3 to 6 hours. And to tell you the truth I loved those days. Here’s why, and maybe it will help you as you’re thinking about exam dates.

I looked at these days, whether it was one hour, two hours, or however many hours, as uninterrupted time to focus. Certainly, when it was at the end of the semester, I would take papers to grade, particularly the ones that I have been procrastinating about grading and that’s all I would take in there. If I didn’t want to just stare at the wall then I had to be grading those papers and I felt great accomplishment when I left the room and had done that. Sometimes, if it was a different time of the semester, I would take some type of writing project with me or planning for an upcoming semester. I took the kind of work where one hour or more of completely focused time without e-mail, people talking, etc. would end up making a huge difference. And maybe weirdly there was just something about being in a room where everyone is thinking and working and has that kind of energy (even though some of that energy was super stressed energy!) that supported my energy and focus.

I think that particular time is valuable time for a faculty member if you carefully consider taking a slice of a project or an entire or small project into the room with you.

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