Finals week is stressful. For me, the week before finals is even more stressful. I am not worried about getting things together for home, or the impending cold weather (well hopefully, if climate change does not ruin winter for me) or anything like that. The kind of stress I am talking about is purely academic.
This semester, more than any other at Quinnipiac, my finals are based on papers or projects rather than exams. That makes me happier than I think I can adequately express.
On one level, I like it because I am just better at papers than I am tests. I feel more comfortable typing away on my laptop, or a loaner laptop, than I feel being cramped into a tiny desk filling out an exam sheet. I like to write. I do not like to use word banks, fill in the blanks or color in little bubbles to indicate my intelligence.
On another level, exams do not showcase what my time at Quinnipiac is all about. College life is interdisciplinary and cross-cultural, as my academic experience should be. Exams do not give that sense of fulfillment that other projects and papers can.
Committing facts and figures to memory to be able to regurgitate that information to a professor may show your memorization abilities. It may even show your commitment to sitting down and studying a slew of topics, but it does not show academic rigor.
Papers allow individuals to put their own voice into a topic. Papers allow students to bring in what they learned from other classes into this class. Papers allow professors to get to know their students on a personal level instead of having such a mechanized relationship that is produced by simply having an exam.
Regardless of the method of final assessment, the weighting in some classes is out of control. I have had a final assessment be worth 45 percent of my grade. The idea of learning to become a better and more well-rounded person is lost if a student’s greatest concern in a course is stressing over a big test, simply to forget the material over winter break.
I implore you, faculty of Quinnipiac, reevaluate the situation in which some of you are placing your students.