Professors holding finals before scheduled exam period

Despite recent efforts from the administration to encourage faculty to comply with the final examination scheduling policy, many professors are giving tests early again this year.

Some professors continue to ignore the policy prohibiting them from administering final exams before their scheduled exam day unless their class unanimously agrees to change the testing day. Final exams are supposed to take place May 10 through 18, however many professors have opted to give their exam on the last day of class in order to end the semester early. The last day of classes is May 5.

Craig Linebaugh, associate vice president for academic planning and special projects, said his office reminds professors every semester of the policy by sending out a memo. Linebaugh’s department oversees the design of the academic calendar.

“When students notify my office that a professor has scheduled a final exam outside of the exam period, I remind the professor of the policy and request that the final exam schedule be followed,” he said in an e-mail.

University officials also sent out reminders, prompted by student complaints, just two weeks into the fall semester telling professors not to schedule exams outside of the designated exam period.

Linebaugh said his office has received few complaints from students so far this semester. He added that students are often the ones who ask for early exams so they can get a jumpstart on summer vacation.

“Indeed, there are numerous reports of students requesting that faculty give exams prior to the final exam period,” Linebaugh said.

Some students said they do not prefer early exams because they do not have as much time to prepare for them. Students are allotted three days following the last day of classes and before exams begin to study.

Judith Plotz, an English and human sciences professor, said she has never given a final exam while classes were still in session.

“It’s a very rushed semester. We shouldn’t rush the exams,” she said. “I think it’s unfair.”

Reka Viswam, a senior in the business school, said about half of her finals are on the last day of classes, while the other half are on their scheduled days.

“I think it’s better to have them on the last day of class,” Viswam said. “It’s more convenient and easier for students to go home.”

Robert Chernak, senior vice president of Student and Academic Support Services, said there may be instances when it is beneficial for students to have exams outside of the scheduled period.

“Having taught myself, some courses don’t require a final, but will have a writing assignment or group project instead that’s better conducted before the week of finals,” he said. “It depends on the type of course if it is appropriate to do on the last day of class.”

Chernak added that professors are expected to follow the exam schedule, but should be allowed some flexibility.

“Faculty is still expected to adhere to the schedule. If they deviate from it, they must let students know in enough time to make arrangements,” he said. “They do have the flexibility to handle matters in a way they deem appropriate.”

Kurt Johnson does not give final exams during the final exam schedule. For his Writing in the Disciplines course, Writing for the Biomedical Sciences, he chose to have his largest assignment due in late March to help ease semester-end stresses for his students.

“I have been an undergrad. I remember leaving things until the last minute. I did this so students weren’t overwhelmed, knowing they have busy exam schedules,” Johnson said.

Johnson also teaches a neurobiology course for undergraduates. He has three equally weighted exams throughout the semester and has no final.

He said he receives a memo every semester about keeping final exams within the scheduled period, but that he designed his courses to not conflict with this policy.

“I have looked at the memo long enough to realize it doesn’t apply to me and my courses,” Johnson said.

Linebaugh said any complaints from students should be directed to the department chair or the dean.

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