New approach to final exams to pilot this semester

by Sydney Zuckerman / Beacon Staff • November 10, 2016

Whether you are trying to book your flight home, fix your work schedule, or figure out if you can skip finals altogether, there are a few things you should know heading into the last few weeks of the term.  

A new finals schedule is being implemented this semester. Robert Colby, coordinator of education preparation and one of the main proponents for this change, gave the following information about the shakeup:

  • The new finals schedule is five days instead of four. This semester, finals will go from Dec. 14–20.

  • Classes that meet once a week are required to meet for a minimum of two hours for finals.

  • Classes that meet twice a week are required to meet for at least one of the two scheduled meeting days.

  • For classes that meet three times per week, the class is required to meet for at least two days.

  • Professors may run classes for the full finals week if they believe it necessary. Faculty are also allowed to choose which day(s) the class meets; it does not need to be the first day of finals week.

  • Professors may choose to use the optional day at the end of the term as a replacement class for a snow/missed day, additional review time, or let students have the day off.

“All of this was driven by trying to make it a better learning environment for both students and the faculty to teach,” said Colby, who is also a professor in the performing arts department.  

He said the new schedule was proposed two years ago.

In the past, finals took place during an additional two-hour block, which usually wasn’t at the same time, or on the same day, as normal scheduled classes. This created problems for many students and faculty members with other commitments, such as other jobs, Colby said.

The college has also eliminated the reading day, a weekday without classes before the start of finals that was, in theory, for studying.

Faculty are not required to give exams and may use the finals period as a day for review, project presentations, or whatever suits the class’ needs, though they are asked to tell students which day they will be using, Colby said.

Executive Director of Academic Administration Anne Doyle said the college requires professors to hold at least one finals class to ensure students receive financial aid, because the term must stretch into week 15 for students to receive federal funding.

There will be an evaluation system at the end of the year to ensure the new system is working for everybody and to see if any revisions need to be made, Doyle said.

Jamie Kravitz, a senior writing, literature, and publishing major, was familiar with the idea of the new schedule but had not heard much about it.  

“For a lot of my classes teachers would be like, ‘Oh, you don’t have to do a final but you have to come,’ and I’d be like, ‘Well I don’t want to sit here and do nothing, I want to go home a week earlier,’ so [the new schedule] seems better,” Kravitz said.