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'The Oklahoma State Way': OSU professors adapt to finals week during COVID-19

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Oklahoma State switched to online classes in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and that has caused changes for many senior capstone classes.

Many across the planet are having to adapt to a new normal during the age of COVID-19. 

With finals week quickly approaching and students returning home to take all exams online, Oklahoma State professors are having to adjust one final time before the semester ends.

While some find this process difficult, others have a “business as usual” mindset. 

Justin Prince, a history professor at OSU, didn’t have to change much when teaching his courses, but his biggest concern is those who don’t have a similar experience.

“I’ve run all of my exams, even in my live courses, the exact way that I’m running my finals. That way there’s no issues that students could have,” Prince said. “They’ve already done the online format, they’re already used to what’s happening and so, my big concern is those professors that don’t have online teaching experience.”

He believes many professors could benefit from the way he’s been reaching students this semester.

However, Prince also says that if the university does continue to have online exams, they need to make it university wide.

“We don’t know how long this pandemic is going to last. I definitely think if we do the same thing going into spring, it should be university-wide, we should make it where professors are encouraged to do the same thing,” Prince said. “If we don’t start planning the whole way, how is that going to affect students?”

For James Puckette, Geoscience Education Chair for the Boone Pickens School of Geology, this semester was about changing the way he teaches, as well as adapting to the “new normal.”

Puckette prepared the same way many professors have this semester, moving all quizzes and exams online in order to help contain the spread of disease.

“As soon as the semester started I told them I would put all of the quizzes that we would normally have and the exams online,” Puckett said. “I went ahead and put them online. That way there was no paper shuffling that could spread the disease.”

With a “dead period” approaching due to students going home after thanksgiving, many professors, such as Jerry Rackley of the Spears School of Business, are grateful for OSU’s decision to send everyone back.

“I mean in my estimation, what other option did we have, really? The school made a decision, in what they felt was in the best interest of the students, the faculty and staff that once Thanksgiving comes, we’re essentially closing down the in-class portion of the learning,” Rackley said. “So, theoretically students went home. It’s all driven by COVID-19 precautions, I don’t know about you, but I’m grateful for that.

“I think we all learned a lot about ourselves that however we deliver education, however we have to test students, we can adjust, we can get it done and I think that’s kind of the Oklahoma State way.”