Finals week is finally upon us, and once again I turn my attention to my final exams.
There has been some debate in the past few years about whether final exams are still an important part of teaching pedagogy. Despite the stress it causes both instructors and students, I still think they are an important part of a class (my classes at least). Final exams give a sense of closure and completion to a class. People tend to value things that they work hard for, both students and instructors. Plus it makes the students review material that they probably haven’t looked at in weeks and helps to reinforce some of your previous teaching.
One thing that sets a final exam apart from other exams is how it will reveal the long term study habits of the students. For students who have been working consistently throughout the term, the final exam will be a very straightforward exercise requiring only a minor review to help them recall their lessons. It will also reveal which students cram before exams or who try to “game” your grading systems.
I also use any number of tricks to help keep me sane… ish… while grading finals. I have my playlist of somewhat angry, somewhat snarky music, and I also have a few disaster movies that I like to watch. It helps on those pages that are painful to grade. Imagine me huddled over a stack of papers, more and more red ink going onto a page. “What? Really? I must be talking to myself in there…. Oh wait, the world is exploding.” Everything needs a little bit of perspective.
Happy finals, everyone.