Final goodbyes: Teachers forgo final exams in favor of other options

With finals right around the corner, some professors are opting out of giving final exams. (Photo by Justin Wright | Collegian Media Group)

With finals right around the corner, most students have been spending their so-called dead week studying and preparing for the upcoming week’s exams.

However, some professors choose to not have their students take a final exam. In these classes, students will instead create a final project, or students will have a choice between taking a final exam or doing something else.

“I always assign some sort of final project or exam,” Amelia Hicks, assistant professor of philosophy, said. “My sense is that students prefer to not have a final exam because exams are stressful.”

Hicks said she considers two things when deciding to offer a final exam: what learning outcomes she wants to measure and what method is best for measuring said outcomes.

Courses like Hicks’ honors ethics course and upper level ethics seminars target students’ reading and analytical writing skills.

“A final project like a paper is a much better way for students to practice those skills, and it’s a more accurate way of assessing whether students have developed those skills,” Hicks said.

Christina Hauck, associate professor of English, teaches a class called Fiction Into Film with no final exam. Hauck is having students make their last film adaption and write a short paper over the project.

“It’s still the same amount of time and effort I would put into studying for an exam, but I’m making a project instead,” Tabatha Grimm, junior in elementary education, said. “I’d much rather do a project. I’m glad I’m not spending all of dead week studying for an exam.”

Kevin Wanklyn, instructor of mechanical and nuclear engineering, teaches a thermodynamics class with an atypical final exam. In addition to a mandatory, non-cumulative final exam, Wanklyn said he allows his students to either average their exams together and take that grade or let students take an additional comprehensive final exam.

“My final exam is 100 points of new material and 50 points of comprehensive material,” Wanklyn said. “I allow my students to opt out of the comprehensive portion of the exam by taking the average of their first three exams because it in essence covers the same material.”

Ashesh Sinha, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, has his students take an open note, open book take-home final.

“I definitely prefer the take-home quiz and having the option to opt out of your final,” Derek Mahoney, graduate student in industrial engineering, said.