Official Complaint Finance Syddansk Universitet
Dear students of the University of Southern Denmark,
if you had to write the ordinary Finance (for some courses named Corporate Finance) exam on the 11th of Jan. 2019, you might have stumbled across many flaws and might also feel deeply frustrated about the course, your exam's results and other people's exam's results and the general structure of this course.
Students from SDU Sønderborg have written this complaint and we kindly ask all those who feel affected as well to participate and this easy and quick petition so we can proof them the extent of their failure.
The text of the complaint is pasted below:
To whom this may concern,
We hereby lodge an honest and factual complaint against the course Finance, taught at the campus of Sønderborg and the identical courses taught at other campuses and their responsible and representative assigner Kenneth Schultz (further referred to as KS) with great importance to the ordinary exam as assigned on the 11th of January 2019. This complaint emphasizes the apparently new centralized structure of the course and its examination approach. We wish to exclude our student instructor from this complaint, mainly due to the circumstance that he himself is only a student and cannot have greater insight into the responsibility of this course, nor can he directly affect it. He performed his job in accordance to his tasks and we were generally satisfied. These examples are only an extracted of the misleading communication which most of us have never experienced in any other SDU course, nor would we expect this to happen in our facilities.
Lack of communication
Throughout the semester, this course was dominated by major confusion. It became a theme of burden for many students enrolled to the course Finance in Sønderborg. We did not have direct communication to our partner courses on other campuses until recently and therefore hoped for answers from our own academic ranks, mainly from our lecturer Esben v. Holstein (further referred to as EH) and secondarily from our instructor. However, many questions seem to be unanswered. We do not imply that direct questions were not answered by EH, but confusion has occurred where it simply did not have to, especially in an environment of the highest education at an accredited university. Primarily, these confusions result from poor communication between the centralized representative and the related campuses, i.e. the students enrolled to the correlated local courses.
A comprehensively failed concept of centralization
Why did exercises have to be edited? Why did MCQ tests have to be edited? Why does Exercise week 51 imply that part of it would not be relevant for the exam – which it seemed to be - after Kenneth Schultz uploads a note to blackboard as of the 3rd of December stating all exercises to be relevant? Be aware that the description of some exercises with the title “additional exercises” neglects the importance for the examination curriculum. Why did many voices pass on the information that options would not be part of the exam? We do not have evidence for this rumor, however it was communicated to a broad extent and an official statement would have helped regarding expectations towards students for the exam. We have tried to obtain greater and a more study friendly and human insight into those expectations through EH, who always answered questions in accordance to his role and referred to the course description. At this point, we would like to announce the course description for Finance to be highly dissimilar to the actual course in a variety of matters:
- The course description suggests that Finance bases on the learnings of Microeconomics and Mathematics and Statistics. The learning outcomes of Finance naturally evolve from them to some degree, but we as students did not have the capability to cover the gap between the expectations regarding abstract mathematical problems in the former courses and the way higher demanding in Finance as presented in the exam, nor were we provided reasonable tools to actually cover these gaps for the majority of us course participants. To be clear, problem formulations in the exam were performed in a too difficult and extensive and again confusing way, so we did not entirely understand what would be expected from us in the exam.
- The ongoing emphasis on exercise courses did help to prepare for the exam’s content other than looking at old exam problems and papers as suggested by the course responsible, nevertheless they were totally different from the actual exam, especially in the level of difficulty which was expected over the time period of the four-hour exam.
- Severely, the questions themselves were not only too difficult and expectations to results were not clear, but also did each problem have correlations with its subproblems and partially problems were intersected in its character, which clearly is prohibited following the regulations of the examination in the course description.
It appeals to us that the course is centralized, but we simply did not know what was expected from us, who we should ask if we were in doubt, so to speak, what generally we were supposed to do, whether we are emphasizing the examination itself or the course and its various subparts.
Consequently, the exam included tasks which we almost did not spend any time on in classes, which accounts to almost half of the exam as of the 11th of January. We dealt with portfolios a lot as they were always present in the exam preparing MCQ tests, but this topic was not reflected within the exam at all. Why would you emphasize it in such a great manner before? The pool of questions is programmed with a random choosing algorithm, but it should definitely represent the weights of importance of the course. Also, should MCQ questions not overlap within the same test of one single person, which happened in multiple cases regarding voices of students here. We have strong conviction, that stressing students with these automated test results did not help at all to prepare for the final examination and we cannot understand why SDU uses their resources on such unnecessary expenses. In regard to the MCQ’s we would like to cumulate the overall failure of this course. One student handed in a comment with the words:
“After each MCQ test we did not receive any feedback, which is crucial while studying. There was no way to find out what mistakes we have made, not to mention to learn from them. I took Finance as an extra course, since it was not included in my program, and I really regret paying so much money for it, because I had to teach myself the entire course without receiving much help from the ones responsible for the course. My fellow students and I spent so much time on this subject, yet no matter how much we have studied, the big majority of students still managed to fail the exam. The negative average grade of the exam shows that the difficulty and the content of the exam were not corresponding to the content taught during the lectures. The exercises given in the exam were not particularly stressed during the lectures, exercises given during the semester or MCQ tests. Particularly, the option task, that accounted 25% of the exam. We were informed that this chapter will not be included in the exam, in addition, there was only one single exercise in week 51 related to this topic. While on the other hand, the topic of portfolios, which was stressed multiple times during the exercises and MCQ tests, did not come up in the exam at all. Overall, I am very disappointed in this course due to its poor management, no feedback and the nature of the exam.”
Why were we supposed to work with Excel in all classes? We were shown problems in Excel, the full MCQ syllabus is based on Excel and the same accounts for nearly the entire course. Why were we first told the week of the exam that we were supposed to plug in the formula numbers from the book if we worked with Excel? With all due respect to your precision, Mr. Kenneth Schultz, not only does this not align with any sense as Excel extracts were always perceived as sufficient proof of a guiding problem solution at SDU, but also did this approach cost even more valuable time! Additionally, the intersecting approach of the exam problems stressed the factor of time highly, so we could not actually use the time wisely, nor could we try to solve subproblems as they were depended on previous results. The level of difficulty was generally much higher than most exercises classes and their problems or old exam problems. We do not wish to suppress the idea of development and change, but we expect the difficulty in our syllabus not to highly differ from former semesters. Referring to former and other courses, we are aware of all complaints handed in to you so far and hereby highlight that a reaction other than a default deny policy is comprehensively expected, not only by our campus, but also by the students of all other SDU campuses.
Please keep in mind that communication via social media does not require much effort to be point by point and we are in no way surprised that stranger students have contacted us and desperately asked to help writing an official complaint.
This complaint shall only reflect our honest concerns regarding the course in a retro perspective to the teaching period and hopefully will be handed towards those, who take our concerns seriously and react with great awareness and consequences, yet, we do not accept a default deny policy as mentioned previously. The main party of this complaint, KS, but also the the studieleder for Business Administration, the Representative for Sønderborg at the Board, the Head of Dept., the Vice Head for Education and the Head of Research may wish to comment on the general appropriateness of the examination form and the course’s structure immediately and before the scheduled reexamination on the 19th of February.
There are different solutions to the underlying problem, whether you totally annul the validity of this past exam, wether you grant a general retake of the exam while keeping passed grades or wether you change the exam’s structure towards a solvable problem and still let those who passed keep their grades and those who badly tried passing keep their attempt. Further, we would like to emphasize that the failure rates both in Sønderborg and at other campuses demand an extended explanation, since they are nowhere to be compared to the gaussian distribution curve. Additionally, we cannot understand the grading of -3 in many cases where students have actually submitted a lot of work (four hours) and tried to explain problems.
There will not be a complaint handed in to the study board due to the limited time frame until the reexamination and the misfit in the schedule of the highly respected instance of the study board of Economics.
Participants of the course Finance
Sønderborg, 8th of February 2019