Hi 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 to re-read it in light of many of your comments yesterday. I wrote as a tenured professor with a 2-2 load who has a grader to assist with our large (100 to 123-student) classes, and didn’t consider how differently grading final exams and papers is when 1) one teaches 3 or 4 classes (or more!) per term, and 2) doesn’t necessarily have a T.A. or a grader, and especially 3) if one is on a quarter system, with a super-short Winter Break and/or a non-existent break in-between the winter and spring quarters. As Ann Landers used to say: my slip is showing! I used to teach a 3-3 load, and I used to have non tenure-track jobs–how easy it was to forget those pressures once they were no longer mine! So, I apologize for being a clueless oaf. You all were a lot more polite than I deserved–but as always, good manners are appreciated here!
I should also have written more clearly–it’s the piling on of all final work in the last week of classes that is objectionable to me. Submitting final papers in the last week of classes–especially if there’s no other work due or new material introduced–seems totally reasonable. (As Bardiac noted in the comments, ze can then return the papers to the students on the last day of classes, with comments–something that those of us who accept the papers during exam week can’t offer our students. I think I’m going to change the deadlines for my seminar papers from now on.)
It’s the early in-class final that seems abusive of the students, IMHO, especially when (like many of my students this week) they have papers due in those same classes. Over the years, I’ve become partial to the concept of giving the students as much time as possible so that they could–if they chose to–do their best work. (Give ‘em enough rope, etc! That way, I don’t have to hear the complaints.) Although, as Profsweddy points out, when final exams administered during the last week of classes instead of exam week becomes the custom, students may also resent having to hang around campus during exam week while they wait to take your final. . .
Thanks for your patience with me, and for the thoughtful commentary on the pedagogy of exams.