When proctoring exams, I am regularly faced with the issue of students not writing their name and/or additional required information on their exam until time is up and I am collecting the exams. This happens despite reminders at the start of the exam, 10 minutes before time as well as on the exam sheets themselves.
I have several concerns about this:
- Even if I have no problem believing this is the result of stress and an honest mistake, I find that the way I currently handle the situation can create opportunities for less honest student to exploit or lead to other honest students feeling slighted/complaining. This is because the process of collecting copies turns into a ten minute mess where I am forced to focus on individual students rather than the whole room, while students who already have turned in are tempted to talk, pack their things and start leaving if collecting takes too long and/or appears disorganized to them.
- There is realistically no way for me to check that students are only filling in their name and nothing else. I do not want to have discussions about why student A is writing while I am chiding student B for the same thing, or whether student C in the back of the room is still working or just inscribing his name.
- From a classroom management point of view, it is difficult to enforce any time limit when multiple students are continuing to write after time has been called, and to ensure students stay seated in silence if collecting copies takes too long and appears disorganized.
I do not have control on the format of the exam itself, nor on the grading, so this question is not relevant. That said I am open to suggestions on how to prevent this occurring as a simple invigilator. I would like to focus on how to prevent such an occurrence from disrupting the process of collecting the exams.
Unless the situation requires otherwise, the process goes as follows. At the end of the exam, I ask students to stop writing and remain silent while I go through them with a cardboard box to collect all copies. This is quick and painless as long as all students are ready to hand in when I pass by. However, when students have to write their name as I arrive (on every sheet of paper, so this takes non-negligible time), this is very disruptive and quickly makes the whole collecting process a mess.
- I can stop at the offending student and wait for him to write his name everywhere before resuming my walk through the room. This can be too slow because exams can be more than 10 pages long and this deals with offending students sequentially, so the added hassle is also proportional to the number of offending students (annoyingly they most often will only start dealing with the issue once I am at their desk). This is an issue because in my experience, I can keep control of the exam room (limited talking, writing and general chaos) for five or so minutes before things really devolve. Realistically, if some students do not respect the no talking/no writing rules in this five minute period, it should not affect the exam outcome too much, but if the collecting process takes ten-fifteen minutes and I am forced to focus on individual students rather than the whole room, I can see issues arising and/or students complaining of unfairness.
- I can rip the exam out of the offending student's hands and shove it in the box, but I think this is too harsh a punishment, and that would not fly with the course head anyway.
- (What I typically do) Give a stern reminder to the student and continue on through the room, navigating back to the student some moments later to collect their exam. This has the advantage of not completely halting the process for a single student, but makes this process more complex for me as I have to remember who still has an exam. In my experience this is still the best solution but it is really a tightrope walk as 3-4 offending students can quickly transform the process of collecting exams into a cat-and-mouse game. Also, it is then not obviously clear to the other students why some students are not immediately handing out and are even seemingly allowed to continue writing while they have to hand in. It feels like this method is also the most prone to "losing the room" because it gives the impression to other students that handing out is "flexible". I have had this method lead to students ostensibly write answers as I am standing in front of them waiting for them to hand in.
- One other method I thought of, but which would only be applicable to exams with a limited amount of students is to carry two boxes, one where most students would put their exam in, and the other for exams of students who are "not ready" to hand in for one reason or the other. Then once all copies are collected, offending students are invited to my desk to sort their issues out (i.e. write their name on the sheets in this case). However I don't know how acceptable this is, and I would not want to deal with several students claiming the same answer sheet.
For context, I give exams to first- to fifth-year students and (surprisingly to me at least in the beginning) this happens in all classes. I proctor exams alone for up to 100 students at a time, and I typically expect two to five such offending students for one exam.
This is not an ideal situation to be put in the first place, and ideally the exam should be designed in a way that would avoid it. However, the current state of practice seems to allow this to happen to proctors in several higher education systems. The question is thus more focused on "people skills" to employ in that situation so as to limit the resulting disruption and limit the opportunities for cheating and/or legitimate complaints from students.