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Message from the Dean: Teaching & Exams

Message from the Dean to all students at LMU Faculty of Economics concerning teaching & exams in the winter semester 2020/21

21.10.2020

Dear Students, Staff and Faculty,

at this time of year, when the new semester would have already started and we were already welcoming new students, it was customary to remind them and you that academic studies can often be challenging and require perseverance. How I long for those simpler times when „challenge“ meant working through a particularly hard proof and „perseverance“ handing in your assignments in time.

I must say, I am in awe at how well we rose to this challenge. I draw my hat to all those who moved teaching online in a few weeks, who designed virtual formats for seminars and conferences, who ordered and distributed new IT equipment, to those who looked out for friends, fellow students, or colleagues who were stranded abroad or cut off from their loved ones in Munich. Let us not forget, that the pandemic is not only a logistical challenge, but a social and personal one. Do not hesitate to reach out to us, even in non-academic matters.

Now that the biggest challenges have been surmounted, comes the time for preserverance. Despite our great hope that we could make first, tentative steps towards more personal interaction, the virus unfortunately had other plans in store. In the interest of those most vulnerable and at risk, I urge you to stay cautious, stay aware of others, to persevere in our efforts to weather this storm. Let this not become the winter of our discontent! Rest assured that we are working very hard to not make it so.

Stay safe, stay healthy, stay sane,
Best,
Florian Englmaier, Dean of the Faculty of Economics

Looking back… and looking forward: Lessons from the last and plans for the next semester

Teaching
In the most recent round of evaluations, 60% of students found their academic progress comparable to those of regular, in-person semesters. Feedback from teaching staff was largely very positive, as well.

We are continuously working at improving online teaching, using students‘ feedback for the winter term. Although we would wish to go back to more in-person interaction, this is infeasible. With the current distance and hygiene requirements, our biggest room – the Audimax – hosts a maximum of 77 people, for example. Also, let us not forget that there are also students with pre-existing health conditions, who would be excluded from studying were we to move back on-site formats.

Exams
To provide students with reliable planning horizons with regards to exams, we quickly decided to move all exams online. Many students would have been unable to reach Munich due to travel restrictions, and we did not want to force students with pre-existing conditions or at risk family to incurr any unnecessary risks. A small team at ISC quickly developed take-home exams that required only free software, minimal technical equipment, and no stable internet on the students‘ side. After extensive testing by students and staff, the ISC rolled out take-home exams with live online support on zoom.
It is not yet clear whether exams will be held as digital take-home exams in winter semester 2020/2021 again. However, the current development of the corona pandemic does not give rise to great hope that students will be able to return to the lecture halls for exams. The ISC is currently analyzing where digital take home-exams can be further improved.

Plagiarism
Unfortunately, the number of students who cheated on their take-home exams is non-negligble. The examiners will notice any attempts at cheating, and fail the respective student. Repeated cheating attempts can lead to exclusion and exmatriculation (Art. 49 Abs. 2 Nr. 3 BayHSchG). We have not made use of this measure out of consideration for our students in this unusual situation. However, we will not hesitate to exmatriculate students who continue cheating next semester. We do hope that this appeal to your academic integrity will be enough: Deal responsibly with the enticing freedom of the take-home exams and work on your exams alone and without cooperation!

Exam Review
Due to the university closure in March/April we were forced to postpone exam reviews for the winter term 19/20. We are currently working at developing a concept that enables students to review their exams online. Due to the very dynamic development of the pandemic this will require more flexibility than usual from all involved. Please stay tuned for further information.