Let’s put the final in finality and just end courses when the teaching material is no longer worth learning.
As finals week approaches and we all scramble to finish those essays, group presentations and various projects, the last thing we all want to worry about is another arbitrary lecture tacked onto the end of a course.
If you’re like me, you might treat the final three weeks of a semester as both a blessing and a curse. They are a blessing because you can celebrate the end of the semester and get ready for those good summer vibes to flow your way. They can also be a curse when you realize you have a substantial final coming up during the last week of the semester. This is especially true when looking back at a course syllabus and seeing there’s yet another lecture during dead week.
It is understandable why a professor might choose to have one more busy class period before the final is due. Perhaps they want to end the class with a fun week, or maybe they want a chance to gauge everyone’s progress on the final project/exam. However, when that class takes time away from a student’s work on the final for arbitrary reasons, then it is not worthwhile.
The next few weeks are always busy for students and faculty alike but adding more busy work is incredibly stressful. Over the next few weeks, in two of my courses, I have a final essay and final group presentation due, as well as a simulation, two quizzes and a lecture. These assignments are all due before the final projects and it seems my fellow classmates are struggling for air here lately.
When professors add assignments like this so close to finals week, it adds extra pressure on students who are already worried about the final due the following week. Not only do students suffer, but professors who bite off more than they can chew are risking burning themselves out before the grading period is over. Therefore, for students’ and faculty sakes, find alternative ways to fill the dead time before the end of the semester.
For example, one of my classes is using the week before the final to give students a chance to earn some extra credit if their grades aren’t where they want them to be. Rather than attempting a usual schedule that would normally consist of a reading, lecture and a quiz, this professor is simply giving us a reading and chance to earn extra credit. As a student who has multiple projects due the following week this is incredibly refreshing and helpful.
So, rather than packing the final weeks before the semester is over with lectures, quizzes and arbitrary assignments, take a page out of this professor’s book. I think we can all agree that a week to catch up and perhaps a chance to earn some extra credit is worthwhile for students and faculty alike.
On an extreme note, perhaps if the course has covered all the material it set out to cover, then it should end a little early. If the class no longer has the chance to teach students the lessons they need to learn, or have taught everything they need to know, then there’s no sense in keeping the course going. Simply move the final project/exam/presentation up and let students end the course so we all have a favorable experience.
If we change our M.O. on how we approach the final weeks of the semester, then perhaps we can have happier students and faculty members. Ending a course on a good note is great for morale and its even easier on those FCQ’s … ahem!
Hang in there UCCS, we’re in the home stretch!