'Covid finals period' at Kazan Federal University: diploma defence via smartphone and result-rating examination

The number of state exams has been reduced to a minimum

'Covid finals period' at Kazan Federal University: diploma defence via smartphone and result-rating examination
Photo: Maksim Platonov

About three hundred questions about the upcoming exams and diploma defenсe were asked on 22 May by students, lecturers of KFU and journalists on a direct line to the vice-rector of the university for educational activities, Dmitry Tayursky. Realnoe Vremya tells about how diploma defence will be organised in the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, why the university is not afraid that graduates will have the opportunity to cheat from Alisa and Google during the defence and qualification exams, and when and in what environment they will be awarded diplomas.

Graduates going online

According to Tayursky, the management of the university approached the first distance learning session in its history with the experience of the previous two months — knowing the pros and cons of this form of training. For example, it turned out that fears about the inability of older teachers to fit into the new conditions turned out to be groundless: some of them even at the age of 70 easily, if not joyfully, switched to teaching from home, but a number of young employees of the KFU rebuilt with difficulty.

Tayursky pointed out the main advantage of conducting exams and protection of graduate qualification work in the Internet space: in this case, a record is made, which greatly facilitates the “debriefing” in the case of an appeal by the examinee.

Dmitry Tayursky was asked about three hundred questions about upcoming exams and diploma defence. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Who don't care about state exams

Since each exam requires quite serious organizational training in remote conditions, the KFU tried to reduce their number to a minimum.

“The defence of the final qualifying work is mandatory, and state examinations are not always introduced at the request of the educational institution, except for those prescribed in the state educational standard," the vice-rector reminded. “There were no state examinations planned for 129 educational programmes of KFU, and about as many state examinations were prescribed by the university's decision. Due to the epidemic situation in April, it was decided to cancel them where possible.

“What to do with those competencies that do not overlap with the defence of the graduate qualification work?" lecturer Irina Glebova asked the question to the vice-rector of the KFU.

“They will be checked by the members of the commission when defending the work, asking additional questions," explained Tayursky.

He said that this year the university has not cancelled only those state exams that are provided for by federal educational standards — for graduates specializing in law, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, religious studies and international relations.

This year, the university has not cancelled only those state exams that are provided for by Federal educational standards — for graduates who specialize in law, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, religious studies and international relations. Photo: Maksim Platonov

“Education is replaced by hearsay”

“There is evidence that school grades improved dramatically during distance learning, as students took tests 'in an embrace with Google and Alisa'. How do you plan to make sure that students really have the knowledge, not just have the tools to search the Internet?" Realnoe Vremya asked Tayursky.

“For an experienced teacher, this is not difficult. If a student cheats — several additional questions will reveale it.

The vice-rector of the KFU, who himself teaches at the Institute of Physics, said that he allows his students to cheat if it concerns “the presentation of factual material, since it is impossible to remember everything”. Another thing, in his opinion, is “the ability to give a complete picture of the phenomenon based on these data” — that is, simply the ability to analyze facts and draw conclusions.

According to Tayursky, modern students often suffer from the lack of this main skill:

“Education is replaced by hearsay — he has heard, but does not know... They take scraps of information and connects the incongruous.”

When distance doesn't matter

Dmitry Tayursky also spoke about the “organizational and technical” features of the current “Covid finals period” of the KFU.

All intermediate exams — for junior courses — will be held online, so that even those students who have left Kazan for home during the restrictive measures will have the opportunity to take them. To take the exam, the vice-rector noted, a simple smartphone will be enough — at the appointed time (the regulations will be posted on the website), the examinee will contact the professor.

Students who took a responsible approach to their studies during the year and passed all the “control points”, lecturers, as before, will have the right to issue exam marks “automatically” at their own discretion. Photo: kpfu.ru

As for the defence of the graduate qualification work , the сhairman of the сommission will manage the process online from the audience assigned for defence, the other members of the commission will have the opportunity to work from other classrooms or from home, and the graduate will have the opportunity to come to another classroom at the appointed time, where they will install a computer, or protect themselves remotely. While the territory of the KFU is closed to everyone, the vice-rector reminded, but the situation should change by the beginning of the session.

“The text of the graduate qualification work can be sent to the university by email," said Tayursky. “The secretary of the commission will print a pdf file for its members.

He promised that in the event of a failure of communication to graduates and examinees will be given a “second attempt”. Besides, students who took a responsible approach to their studies during the year and passed all the “control points”, lecturers, as before, will have the right to issue exam marks “automatically” at their own discretion. The exception is state examinations, which have never been passed automatically and are not planned to be.

“Perhaps, we will collect graduates in parts”

Tayursky said that it is still unclear how the awarding of diplomas to graduates will be organized: everything depends on the decisions taken at the level of the federal centre.

“Perhaps, we will collect graduates in parts [for the ceremony]… But in any case, everyone will have the opportunity to come to the rector's office and get documents," he said and indicated the deadline for handing over the document on higher education — the end of June. “The university will do everything to meet the students' needs.

Tayursky said that it is still unclear how the awarding of diplomas to graduates will be organized: everything depends on the decisions taken at the level of the federal centre. Photo: v-chelny.ru

Taking into account that the academic year in 2020 is extended approximately to the middle of July, the deadline for accepting documents for postgraduate and master's studies (usually from June 20 to July 25), and the timing of entrance exams will be extended, said Tayursky. The submission of documents is provided only in electronic form — on the KFU platform. The KFU plans to start the new academic year, as it should, on September 1.

By Inna Serova
Tatarstan