Finals Week is now a thing of the past.
During the fall 2018 semester, Marywood’s Faculty Senate unanimously voted in favor of eliminating finals week, traditionally scheduled during the last week of the semester. Instead of the traditional specially-scheduled two-hour time slots meant for the delivery of final exams, the last week of the semester will now be just like all the rest–a regular week of classes. Registrar Rosemary Burger presented the idea to Faculty Senate on behalf of the Academic Council.
“The idea for this move came about during a discussion in the academic council because we’re seeing a phenomenon where it seemed that fewer and fewer instructors were taking advantage of that final exam week to actually give final exams,” said Burger.
Burger said one aspect that played a role in the restructuring of the final week of classes was the differences in pedagogy across disciplines.
“Many courses find that a lengthy final exam is not the best way to measure student learning at the close of the semester,” said Burger. “This gives faculty the flexibility to finish out the semester in a way that best fits their discipline.”
English Department Chair and former Faculty Senate President Dr. Erin Sadlack said a concern for the well-being of the students played a role in their decision to adopt this measure.
“We do worry about student mental health, and the kind of pressure that exams can put on them isn’t necessarily healthy,” said Sadlack.
Sadlack said even mundane things like having to change a set work schedule for final exams can be an added stressor for students.
Sadlack said many of the professors she has spoken to said they were planning to use the 15th week for a variety of purposes, including make-up days in case of inclement weather or presentations and lessons that they had traditionally not had enough time to teach. However, this restructuring won’t prevent professors from giving final exams if they so desire.
“If a professor wants to do the traditional final, they still can. They just might need to break it up a little bit, but you’ve got your three hours [in that final week],” said Sadlack. “It’s not saying you can’t test that way if you feel like you want to, but it makes possible a wider range of activities.”
Although, many professors in Faculty Senate were pleased with the restructuring, there were still some concerns.
“I think the only concerns have been making sure everyone knows how to use that time because it is a change,” said Sadlack. “It’s probably going to take some time to get [faculty] out of the old mindset and into the new one. ”
Marywood is not the first institution to implement this restructuring. During the 2010 spring semester, Harvard University reported that 259 of the school’s 1,137 undergraduate courses gave final exams. This restructuring has also been happening in high schools such as the Montgomery County School District, which instituted a similar change in 2015.
“It’s interesting to think about us being on this sort of wave of cutting-edge thinking,” said Sadlack. “To do the traditional finals schedule because it’s always been done that way just isn’t a good enough reason.”
Despite the restructuring, the annual FlapJack Fest will still happen during the final week of the semester.
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