December
11th 2009
Exams during exam week? Plus a fabulous frock.

Posted under: fluff, jobs, students, wankers, women's history

Apparently, a lot of proffies start their winter breaks early by making final papers due during the last week of classes, and they even hold in-class finals then, too.

Whaaaaaaaaa?

Hey, I’m all for the “let’s get this party started,” but really:  that just seems totally unfair to the students, not to mention unprofessional.  Exam week is for exams and the submission of final coursework.  Yes, grading sucks, but it pretty much always does, right?  (And, as much as it sucks, it’s not nearly as stressful as taking exams or writing papers!)  I can understand early deadlines and exams in special cases–such as when one needs to jet off to a conference that week (I did once attend a conference in London in early December), but I don’t think that’s the case for most of us, most of the time.  What do you do?  What do you think about exams administered before exam week?

hepburnauctionIn other news:  Santa baby, can you fit this in your pack?  It’s from a collection of dresses Audrey Hepburn gave to a friend of hers that were auctioned off this week in London.  It’s by Pierre Cardin, 1968–and it was a steal at 650 pounds

Can’t you just see me in it?  (Well, if I could squeeze into it?  I’m very trim, but I’m probably at least 2 sizes bigger than Audrey Hepburn ever was!)

 

44 Comments »

44 Responses to “Exams during exam week? Plus a fabulous frock.”

  1. squadratomagico on 11 Dec 2009 at 10:47 am #

    Loving that dress! I think it should be added to the wardrobe features for the Mad Men site — sure, it’s a little later vintage, but it’d look good there anyway!

    On finals: I’ve never scheduled a comprehensive exam or paper early, but I’ve had one of a series of five-page-papers due the last week of classes, and then had no final exam at all. So, de facto, the last assignment occurs during classes, not finals week.

    But I certainly can see the professors’ point of view, in some contexts. At OPU we get a very short break — about 2 weeks, much briefer than the ~month most schools give. Grades often are due about a week before Christmas, and classes usually start up again around right after the New Year, like 2nd of January (this year, it’s a day or two later because of the weekend). The temptation to shave off a little more time is pretty strong.

  2. Historiann on 11 Dec 2009 at 10:51 am #

    Squadrato–I take your point about those of you with short winter breaks. Ours at Baa Ram U. is a full 4 weeks, as we are on semesters and don’t return to classes until after MLK Day. For people with family (elderly relatives, children, etc.) and/or travel responsibilities, 2 weeks is a real squeeze when you factor in writing syllabi and preparing to start teaching again.

    A 5-page paper due in the last week of the term, especially if it’s advertised as such on the syllabus from the start, doesn’t seem unreasonable.

  3. Profsweddy on 11 Dec 2009 at 10:53 am #

    What those of us here who do hold exams during exam week have found, is that there are so many profs giving early exams, that now our students say, “Do I have to stay until next Thursday? Yours is the only exam (or paper) I have due that week. (I always answer, “Yes. You do have to stay and take that exam or turn in that paper.”)

  4. Emily R. on 11 Dec 2009 at 10:57 am #

    I’m an undergrad at one of those weird universities that has reading period and finals in January, after winter break. In some ways, this makes our assignment schedule more rigid–as students, we would object to a prof requiring a final term paper to make that paper due on any day other than the official mid-January written work deadline. On the other hand, it makes it easier for profs to *also* assign a paper due the week before the December holiday, and that’s the crunch I’m in this weekend. I understand it, and I wouldn’t dream of complaining to my profs about it, but it’s still stressful.

    At the end of the day, though, it’s up to the profs. I’m certainly not going to question the syllabus once it’s been set.

  5. Timothy on 11 Dec 2009 at 11:01 am #

    I’m not sure if this was a universal tradition or not, but at my undergraduate college it was mandated that the dorms were “quiet” during exam week and the weekend preceding. Those days of peace were lifesavers when it came to packing in the last bit of study notes or last-minute edits, and I’m the type of person who likes to work with music in the background! I can only imagine what it’s like for people who need the silence.

    Back to your post- I think that if some of our Professors had moved the final ahead of the scheduled finals week, the entire benefit of the “week of silence” would have been lost because those students would have had to prepare under conditions that were standard throughout the rest of the year: loud music,video games,parties etc.

    Of course, we could have just been a weird college. It was a Catholic school, afterall. :P

  6. PhilosopherP on 11 Dec 2009 at 11:12 am #

    Part of the problem may be an unreasonable due date for grades. At my CC (where 15 credits/semester is the norm and most of my classes are 3 credits and 50 students), we have exams until Thursday night at 9 PM, then a working day on Friday and Monday to get them graded. That’s fine for objective exams that can be graded by a scantron –but, it is quite possible for a faculty member to have 250 final essays / papers arrive on Wednesday and Thursday. Getting fair grades assigned by Monday is nearly impossible.

    I solved the problem by making everything due on Tuesday of Finals week — and assigning things that are easy to grade quickly.

  7. Susan on 11 Dec 2009 at 11:37 am #

    We’re just having a discussion about setting a policy of “no exams the last week of class”. It will be very controversial (because yes, faculty use this so that they can leave early, or commuters, skip a trip to campus.

    I like the idea of a quiet week.

  8. Historiann on 11 Dec 2009 at 11:51 am #

    Reading days or reading weeks are really helpful. If they were instituted with the requirement that there could be no work due, they’d be ideal. IMHO, a 13-week semester, followed by a reading week and then a week of exams would be terrific. After all, why wouldn’t we want to give the students as much opportunity to have a successful semester as possible? (Because then when we fail them, we can do it in good conscience with the knowledge that those who failed really worked at failure!)

    With a reading week free of classes or deadlines (review sessions could be scheduled easily in that time period), it wouldn’t be too punitive to schedule deadlines for early in exam week, to permit those faculty with a high teaching load and/or lots of term papers plenty of time before grades are due. (Philosopher P’s grade schedule looks about par to ours–exams go until Friday at 7, and grades are due Tuesday at 12 noon.)

    Then again: what do your unis do if you don’t turn your grades in by the deadline? A friend of mine was a few days late, and had a couple of nagging emails and phone calls from the Provost’s office, but seriously: what are they going to do? Dock your pay? Seems like unis and students could wait a few more days for their grades.

  9. Historiann on 11 Dec 2009 at 11:55 am #

    p.s. to Profsweddy: you can’t win, can you? If you too scheduled your exams during the last week of classes, you’d get them complaining that ALL of their finals are during the last week of classes…

    In my square state at my public uni, I’m sure the concept of a “reading week” would be wildly popular with the faculty and students, and just as wildly UNpopular with the state lege and all of the preening politicians who like to claim that they’re helping our (cheap-assed) taxpayers “get their money’s worth” out of public education. A week in which proffies and students don’t have any obligations would be interpreted as a slacker week for everyone, rather than as a necessary period for study and preparation for the ordeals of exams.

    Education is clearly far too important to be left to the educators!

  10. Tea on 11 Dec 2009 at 12:02 pm #

    I’m a grad student whose university is on the quarter system. Last year, this was my spring break:
    Quarter ended March 26. there is no “dead week”
    Finals week ended on April 2. The class I was TAing for was supposed to hold their final on the last day.
    the next quarter began April 7.
    Which meant FOUR DAYS, two of which were a WEEKEND.
    As a TA, I was responsible for 50% of a 120 person class, and in the humanities, as squadratomagico and PhilosopherP mentioned, that meant papers. (and my own work, but whatever). And of course, graduate classes tend to give you assignments before the beginning of the quarter. So, yes, i think holding exams before exam week is awesome. and i would wager has very little to do with real laziness, or wanting to “skip a trip to campus.”

    And it’s fine, I actually like working hard, and I did accomplish everything I needed to. But how much better would my seminar paper have been if I had had even one or two extra days to devote to it? How much more fairly would those final papers have been graded?

    This year, apparently, we are getting a whole week for spring break. fantastic.

  11. Somedayphd on 11 Dec 2009 at 12:06 pm #

    My final projects are always due on the last day of class before our Reading day. I tell students up front they are required to come to the final exam period to allow me to return their work.
    As a Comp teacher, the final projects are often portfolios, or multi-genre research projects, (25-30pgs of writing), and without the early due date I would be hard pressed to read/grade everything in 48 hours after the final exam period.
    I’ve never thought of the early due date as a way to increase my own break. It’s always been about grading logistics and giving the students time to study for their other exams.

  12. Erica on 11 Dec 2009 at 12:20 pm #

    This year I had a (graduate level) mechanical failure analysis course, which had no exams, only graded homework, and the professor canceled all classes after Thanksgiving. I don’t think it was due to wanting to start break early, since he also teaches two undergrad classes with quite normal schedules; he just ran out of stuff to talk about. (It’s not an excessively complicated subject.)

  13. Susan on 11 Dec 2009 at 12:39 pm #

    If we don’t turn our grades in on the due date, we can’t use the electronic grade submission, and have to do individual handwritten forms for each student to change the grade. Our deadline is Tuesday the 22 at 4 PM.

    Oh, and we’ve just established an optional reading week. That is, Professors who have assigned long projects can give that to students for working on the assignment.

  14. Knitting Clio on 11 Dec 2009 at 1:03 pm #

    Instead of a final exam for one of my classes, the students are doing presentations on their final project during the last two class sessions and the final exam day. One student had the chutzpah to ask if he had to come in that day — I said “of course”.

  15. life_of_a_fool on 11 Dec 2009 at 1:15 pm #

    I feel like I am one of the few people at my university who has finals during exam week. I often give take home essay exams that are due at the university-scheduled exam time. That seems the fairest to students (and they can turn them in early if they want, so I don’t even have to worry about complaints from students who want to be done early). Of course, this year, that means I am getting 70 essay exams on the last day of the exam period (12/22). Our grades are typically due 2 business hours after the end of the exam period. Thanks to timing of finals/holidays, this year I have until 12/28, which would be great if I didn’t celebrate Christmas, have family obligations, etc.

    Given that we do have a month before classes start again, I am bitter bitter bitter that we only have 2 days to grade and it’s no wonder that so many people violate our policy against exams that aren’t in exam week. And, it’s no wonder that professors give scantron exams.

  16. Tom on 11 Dec 2009 at 1:39 pm #

    My university supposedly has a “dead week” during the 15th week, during which no major exams or work can be due. So when I started scheduling no work at all during dead week, all my students started telling me that I was the only teacher they’d ever had who treated dead week as a dead week.

    I still make my classes meet during dead week, of course: just because there is nothing due doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do.

    Finals week dead ahead now, after marking a stack of portfolios and writing some exams.

  17. perpetua on 11 Dec 2009 at 1:42 pm #

    I always give my exams during the scheduled exam period, even when (as is the case this fall) I’m scheduled the worst possible slot, the last one. Students are very resentful, in my experience, and almost all of them would much rather have an early exam and be able to leave early. It’s not only profs who skip out! Normally, I agree with you, Historiann, that all things being equal, exams should be given during exam time. But many classes don’t have paper exams anymore, they have final papers. One can make a final paper due at the day/time as the final exam was scheduled – and I have done this in the past to give them the maximum amount of time to work on the papers. This semester I had research papers due on the last day of class, but not because I wanted to ditch out of grading or leave town. The research papers were a continuation of a long project we’d been doing in class, and I wanted them to have direct and regular contact with me up until the point they were due. Next semester I will schedule things early, but for selfish and not pedagogical reasons – baby is due right when final grades are, too.

    In my uni, people who turn in late grades are penalized by being locked out of the online grading system and being forced to turn in paper grades, by hand to the registrar. So, pretty punitive if you do your grading in absentia (sometimes necessary for those of us who do research in far away places.)

    I *love* the idea of a 13 week semester and a reading week. That’s what I had as an undergrad. (I also never wanted to leave early and loved exam week.) These 15 week semesters are *too long*, and in my opinion pedagogically unsound (as is the quarter system, IMO), since the students just get really run down and overloaded.

  18. susurro on 11 Dec 2009 at 1:45 pm #

    My final projects/papers are also always due on last day of class with fair warning & research days built into the end of the term syllabus. Most of my students are grateful to get 1-2 classes out of the way before exams b/c they have at least one major exam to study for that would likely suffer if they had to also do two major projects or pub papers as well.

    You are right tho, it’s not all altruism. I like knowing that by Monday following the last day of classes, all my grading will be done and turned in. I usually have a gathering, w/ home cooked meal, @ my house for students during the time our final is scheduled to say goodbye, celebrate their work, and make sure that they take at least 1 hour to breath and eat (ie not snap like crackers mid-exam). It does make my life easier & from what they say, their’s too.

  19. human on 11 Dec 2009 at 1:56 pm #

    @perpetua,

    I’m interested to hear why you think the quarter system is pedagogically unsound (with the caveat that I’ve got no direct experience with it). In theory, it doesn’t seem too problematic to break down chunks of material into smaller units to be taught over a shorter time period. Would you disagree with that idea or is it just that there’s something particular that makes it not workable in practice? Is a 13-15 week semester too standard, making it hard to adapt to a different schedule? Or is there something else?

    What I do have experience with is 4-6 week summer sessions. I think they’re awful for history classes (though ironically in the two summer history courses I had as an undergrad, we soldiered through and it wound up being a really good experience despite problems — I did have to take an incomplete in one course, though; just not enough time to do the work). But they work really well for language courses, in my opinion, because they’re so much more intensive.

    Anyhow, I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on this if you don’t mind.

  20. Barb on 11 Dec 2009 at 1:59 pm #

    The last two schools I taught at had strict policies mandating that final exams had to be given during exam week, and no exams or major papers could be due the week before exams. For my upper-div classes, final papers were due on the last day of exam week. At one school, we had eight days after the end of exams to post grades. At the other, it depended when your last exam was – one year, I had 48 hours to get grades in. Yeah, it sucked, but at least I never had students complain about having to stick around for my exam! I also grade final stuff as I get it, instead of waiting until I have exams/papers from all my classes, which helps. And of course, if students do whine about the final paper being due so late, I tell them there’s no rule saying they can’t submit it early!

  21. perpetua on 11 Dec 2009 at 2:42 pm #

    @ human – I don’t mind. As you can tell, I’ve got plenty o’ opinions. I’ve worked both on quarters and on semesters. Most profs I’ve talked to feel the same way that I do about quarters (disclaimer: it’s still a limited sample); the ones that I’ve spoken to who like quarters like them for professional, not pedagogical, reasons (that is, people on quarters often teach 2-2-1; it is relatively easy to get 1 course release, particularly through service for tenured profs, which means many profs regularly teach 2-2, six months on, six months off). Here’s what I think is unsound: They are 10 weeks long, three per academic year. Students tend to take the same *number* of courses in quarters as they do in semesters (but they tend to be 3 credit hours) – they take 4 or 5. That’s a LOT of classes per academic year. Although in theory the academic year is the same length quarters or semesters, in quarters students are packing in a lot more information, much more quickly. (In addition to the fact that between winter and spring quarters, there is only spring break – a standard week off. So from early Jan to mid-June, students and faculty have one week off – and of course faculty spend 50% of their break grading, because that’s when grades are due!) They have little time to actually think about or grapple with the information they’re receiving. It’s also extremely difficult to assign a research paper in that amount of time, unless it’s a seminar specifically designed for that purpose. Every term felt like a sprint to me, just rushing through material at lightening speed. It was exhausting, and it felt like there was little “give” in the syllabi. I felt like I did not have the class time I needed to go over important things not directly related to the material (about how to write a paper, for example).

    Anyway, sorry to derail the thread (briefly).

  22. justme on 11 Dec 2009 at 2:49 pm #

    I’m an adjunct at a CC, and I rarely give exams during the exam period. There are a few reasons for this– when I have exams in my classes, I give 2 exams and the second is not cumulative– so it doesn’t make sense to have an extra-long time slot for it. Also, the students already have a pile of exams during exam days, at my school– we have one or two reading days, and two or three exam days, so this does away with conflicts and freakouts over too many exams in one day– which isn’t unusual, when students take 5 classes and there are only 2 exam days. Another big issue is that, because this is a commuter school, when exams are scheduled for a whole new time slot, some students who have arranged their work and childcare around classes invariably run into problems, which then become my problems. And of course the last reason is that they leave so little time between final exams and grades being due– I can’t give the exams the attention they need because I have to get through all 90-110 of them in 72 hours or so. This isn’t about starting vacation early (ha! vacation!) but about what works best for my students and my classes.

    And for adjuncts, there is always the fear of turning anything in late or causing any “trouble” because our jobs are so precarious.

  23. Indyanna on 11 Dec 2009 at 2:54 pm #

    Didn’t have time to read the comments, but we’re literally not allowed to do that, by longstanding agreement between the union and the managerial class at the state-wide level. Conversely, we’re also not allowed to just give a take-home and not have what’s I think morbidly termed by the bureaucracy an “appropriate terminating event” at the time and place scheduled by the registrar. It’s hard to get the students to accept that locus of authority, so we hear a lot of “but my ride is leaving three days early,” “this is the only time my parents can take off to drive me home,” whatever. But I agree, it’s tacky to take a dive on one last measure of devotion to student learning.

    Oh, yeah, the other thing, I got an e-mail from the provo on September 15, inviting me at any point from that day forward to record the “learning outcomes” for the course that had just barely gotten airborne. Remind me again, how is this not corrupt?

  24. Comrade PhysioProf on 11 Dec 2009 at 2:55 pm #

    Very cool dress!

  25. Indyanna on 11 Dec 2009 at 2:56 pm #

    p.s. I also agree with life-of-a-fool, above that it’s ridiculous and scandalous that the grading window is as short as it is. If we miss it, everybody up to the level of the lieutienant-governor of Transaltoonia is notified of same, and every grade has to be submitted on a “change of grade form.”

  26. Matt L on 11 Dec 2009 at 3:00 pm #

    I give a comprehensive final for my western civ classes during the scheduled final exam week. Part of it is a take home essay (they get the questions at the beginning of the semester) and the in-class part is multiple choice (terms and definitions) and a short essay (1 page) based on a primary source we have talked about in class. I usually give the upper level students a final paper due during finals week.

    I think that a reading week would be great. I know that there are some students who could really use it. Woebegone State has a reasonable grading deadline: final grades are due about a week after the last exams (most semesters). If I only had 24 or 48 hours after the exam to turn in final grades, I totally would have deadlines in the last week of class.

    My only complaint is that it still takes me too long to grade the essays, but that is my own fault.

  27. Anastasia on 11 Dec 2009 at 3:20 pm #

    my contract specifies exactly what Barb describes. No exams/major papers due the last week of classes. I also have to hold a final exam period, whether or not I hold a final. At the least, I have to show up and be there so students can show up and hand in a final paper. I will admit that I might do otherwise if it weren’t in my contract but I do think it’s a good policy. students need that time.

  28. Dr. Crazy on 11 Dec 2009 at 4:02 pm #

    You know, I don’t really get why a major paper would be a burden in the last week, if the students are given the assignment with tons of lead-time and with the tools to do the paper in a way that doesn’t involve writing it the night before it’s due (which doesn’t result in much positive in any case). I had major papers due in two of my 4 classes yesterday (the last regular week), and I got no complaints from the students about them – probably because they’ve had the paper assignments for 4-6 weeks. Seriously: if the students needed that last week for studying, they could have done the papers early.

    Exams are another thing – I would never give a test during the last week.

  29. Janice on 11 Dec 2009 at 4:15 pm #

    At my university, you cannot administer any assessment tool in the last week of classes that takes more than 50 minutes of class time. That was specifically to stamp out all the profs who’d give the exam in the last week of classes and vamoose.

    I am not an unsullied fan of final exams. In my seminars, I dispense with the exam. Instead, I require students to submit a portfolio of work that culminates with a 50-minute (maximum! most students take about 30 minutes) in-class source analysis our last week of term.

    Because I don’t schedule a final, grades are pretty much due right after classes end, making it hard to give the students any time beyond the course period to polish their portfolios. (But, then, they have the entire portfolio requirement in hand from day one, excepting for the source analysis selections.)

  30. Historiann on 11 Dec 2009 at 4:22 pm #

    My problem is with the exams during the last week of classes, not with papers collected in the last week of classes, especially when as Dr. Crazy and others have noted, the deadlines were advertised clearly in August or September.

    It strikes me that teaching loads are really critical–if someone is teaching 4 courses instead of 2, then ze has a lot of incentive to give scantron rather than essay exams, as well as to have more work due and give exams earlier. It seems totally unfair that all of our grades are due on the same day and time–why can’t universities insist that graduating students’ grades have to be submitted by X date, but let the rest of the grades be submitted by Y date? (As I recall, that’s how my undergrad college did it–it was only Senior grades that were due especially early in May, whereas the rest of us could wait.)

    A student of mine told me today that she’s not taking a final in one of her classes because she already has an A, and they only have to take the final if they don’t like their grade going into the final. That just seems lazy on the part of the instructor–but not outside of the bounds of ethical practice. (A student who is earning an A has clearly been doing the work as scheduled all semester long–but I don’t like the implication that the final exam is reserved for those who need “remedial” work, or that it’s a punishment for bad grades…) I think there’s value in showing one’s mastery of and ability to synthesize everything read and learned over the course of the semester.

  31. wini on 11 Dec 2009 at 6:54 pm #

    I have found out that many classes at my school do not require the final. I’m not sure what departments do this (not mine), but you have to get XXX amount of points to earn a grade, and once you earn the grade you want you are basically done for the semester.

    I agree fully with you in the value of synthesis on final exams, something that my first year students this year really didn’t get at first. We talked about it a lot in class, so I hope they get it now.

    My University also has strict rules about the last week of class and Finals week. We’re not even able to hold review sessions during Finals period. Le sigh.

  32. Bardiac on 11 Dec 2009 at 7:25 pm #

    I give finals during finals weeks, but I do have students turn in their final paper on the last day of classes if possible. That means I should grade them by the final meeting date, and actually respond meaningfully to the paper. That’s important to me because otherwise I’m lazy and don’t want to write a response. But if I’m handing it back that day, I do it and do a good job.

    And for some students writing a senior seminar or even a first year comp paper, getting that final feedback on a big project means a lot.

  33. Indyanna on 11 Dec 2009 at 8:31 pm #

    The system we now have that I mentioned above, of a required “terminating event,” even if the faculty member decides to use a take home or out of class final, came about many years ago because the powers that were concluded that faculty and students were tacitly conspiring to abolish “exam week” by resort to other evaluation methods. To their credit, the powers respect academic freedom enough that they don’t try at all to define or impose any sort of “terminating event,” but they do vaguely imply that not to have one is sanctionable.

    I agree entirely with Historiann on the question of finals. Not having one for a coherent reason is appropriate. But exempting a whole subset of students because they’ve “already” reached whatever grade they’re going to get is pretty cynical and lazy [That's my paraphrase, to be sure]. Taking an exam or doing any sort of gradeable exercise is supposed to be about learning itself, and should contribute to solidifying whatever you have learned, quite above and beyond whatever measurement or evaluation or assessment opportunity it offers.

  34. Bavardess on 11 Dec 2009 at 9:03 pm #

    As a student, I thank you for your consideration. Also, cool dress!

  35. Professor Zero on 12 Dec 2009 at 1:28 am #

    I try to do the opposite: no new material in the last week of class, make it a reading week as much as possible or use it for presentations, and then give finals on the scheduled day and make due dates for final papers as late as possible.

    This is for pedagogical reasons: YES everything is cumulative, everything should be synthesized and digested, and YES people should have good final papers.

    However, I am on semesters. I’ve taught on the quarter system and especially in skills building classes, I see the point of giving, say, five tests during the quarter and having all of them incorporate some “review” type questions. When I took these kinds of courses as a student, there were finals, but they were sort of redundant if one was a good student: you didn’t need to study for them, you just had to go in and repeat your former performance. Now, though, I really like finals in those classes, because they let me check for retention, double check for improvement, make a final assessment I can stand by.

    I also used to teach composition and we had five papers during the quarter, with no final and the option of handing in the last one on the last day.

  36. perpetua on 12 Dec 2009 at 7:18 am #

    On the issue of “A” students being exempt from finals: my partner taught at a liberal arts college where this was the college policy, period. Faculty could do nothing about it, even when they vehemently disagreed with it. (Although now that I think about it, the policy might have extended to seniors only.)

  37. Exams during Exam Week? revisited, in which I check my privilege. : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present on 12 Dec 2009 at 9:14 am #

    [...] all–thanks for your feedback on yesterday’s post.  I threw it together quickly–unusual for me–and I was more than a little embarrassed [...]

  38. human on 12 Dec 2009 at 1:24 pm #

    Thanks for the reply, perpetua. I had not realized quarter systems were so short on breaks. Yuck. It also sounds like there is an expectation of teaching the same amount of material in a quarter as a semester, which seems pretty messed up.

  39. perpetua on 12 Dec 2009 at 3:04 pm #

    @ human – a handful of schools on the quarter system not only have the expectation that the quarter will cover the same amount of material as a semester, they actually BUILD that into the system. We’re all used a typical system where classes are 150 minutes a week (3 50 minute, 2 1hr20 mint, etc) – they call it 3 hours of face time a week per course. Some unis require 4 hours of face time. MWF classes are MTWF classes, and T-TH classes meet for 1hr 50 minutes. So you can actually cram an entire semester into a quarter. Insanity.

  40. The History Enthusiast on 12 Dec 2009 at 5:33 pm #

    I’m with Crazy. Exams at my uni cannot be administered during the last week of classes–which seems quite fair–but final projects and papers can be. Students are generally okay with this, because then their final assignments are more spread out instead of having all 4 or 5 due within the short period of finals week.

    So, most of my classes include final projects/papers that have been broken up into small chunks (description/proposal, 1st draft, and then final draft), which makes it possible for students to plan well ahead.

  41. Another Damned Medievalist on 12 Dec 2009 at 11:39 pm #

    We are required to do *something* during our scheduled final period. We are also not supposed to give tests or any *new* papers the last week of classes, nor can we require attendance at any event or field trip. We also have a fairly sensible grading window. Finals start on Tuesday, end Friday, and grades are due Tuesday at 5 p.m. When I have a conference or something scheduled across from finals week, I assign a take-home, and students are required to turn it in during the final period. When not, I’m there. It annoys me when colleagues give finals early, but this year a bunch did. The reason? Dorms closed Friday at 5. The last final was Friday from 8-10. at night. Lots of people gave exams early, and I don’t blame them.

    But normally? unless faced with a ridiculous window, it makes sense to give the final during finals week. A friend of mine in Ireland actually has about 3 weeks to mark finals.

  42. Historiann on 13 Dec 2009 at 9:55 am #

    ADM: exams from 8-10 p.m. Friday night, after the dorms close? Clearly your uni is inviting both faculty and students to break the rules!

    The exam for my survey class is tomorrow morning is at 7 a.m. If ever I were tempted to break the rules, this would have been the semester. At least the weather has warmed up and it doesn’t look like I’ll be driving through snow and ice at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow. . .

  43. FrauTech on 13 Dec 2009 at 6:05 pm #

    As a student I like early exams (usually during the last class period). Not just so I can skip out early, but having no classes during final’s week makes it sort of seem like it’s ALMOST vacation, even though it’s not, and I always have to fight more lethargy than normal to study during final’s week.

    Perpetua must teach at my institution, so much of it sounds identical. From what I’ve noticed at similary semester institutions it means on the quarter system you don’t get as much time for labs or hands on projects.

    Letting students pass without the final exam is crazy. In other disciplines I had the final often replaced by a paper, but now my finals are usually worth 40-60% on average, and if cumulative they sometimes allow 100% if your final grade was better than your overall grade. That can be especially nice if I’ve only figured out the material just in time to do better on the final than I was doing on the homework.

  44. Indyanna on 13 Dec 2009 at 10:06 pm #

    An exam at 7 a.m.? Ouch! In all my days, I’ve never heard of anything academic happening that early, save for at Not-Moo U, where if I’m remembering, the TAs tended to get a lot of 7:30 a.m. sections to teach. With that and post-dorm closing exams, my impression is that universities are trying to cram everything into as short a time as possible, doubtless for some arcane algorithmic resource allocation factor. I never in my life ever GOT fall grades any before the New Year, nor had to turn them in before then until the advent of electronic reporting early in this decade/century.

    Drive careful tomorrow, Historiann.