Examgraphic

UTSA faculty may no longer be required to meet during final exam week. In fact, final exam week may soon be a thing of the past.

At the Faculty Senate November meeting, Dr. Tom Cannon, representing the Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars, discussed eliminating the standard final exam week. Currently, UTSA’s fall and spring semesters are sixteen weeks long, including a weeklong final exam period. Under the suggested system, professors could choose to either hold class as normal or administer a traditional, three-hour final exam during the final week of the semester.

“The idea behind this (independent proposal) is flexibility; flexibility for the faculty to be able to provide what they believe is the best way to assess and evaluate student learning,” explained Cannon, a marketing professor department. An additional goal of the proposal is to allow professors to break up a small series of four to five examinations into a greater number of specific assessments, which Cannon believes will increase student engagement.

Engineering professor Randall Monteufel was initially skeptical of Cannon’s plan but grew to support it after considering his rationale. “I’ve always had final exams. I’ve taken them as a student, and I’ve given them as an instructor. I very, very rarely do not have a final exam,” stated Monteufel.

He explained that the personal experience that drew him to support Cannon’s suggestion were the hours he spent meticulously grading final exams, only for students to never pick them up and miss important feedback. Monteufel stated that if he were to give his students multiple smaller exams, he believes they would no longer miss the feedback lost from failing to pick up final exams.

“If the changes were made, I would still have a final exam, but it would be less intense. I would also administer eight smaller examinations, rather than the three I give now,” said Monteufel.

Unlike Monteufel, philosophy professor Alistar Welchman received Cannon’s idea with a skepticism that has not waned. Moreover, a notable faction of the Senate shares Welchman’s argument that the proposal could actually reduce the flexibility of the faculty.

During the meeting, Welchman questioned Cannon about the logistics of managing a mixture of normal and extended classes, to which he could not give specific answers.

“If you have a finals week, a sixteenth week during which some students have their regularly scheduled classes and some have finals, I would like to know with some confidence that the inevitable scheduling issues (from overlapping classes) could be resolved,” said Welchman.

He worries that inadequate scheduling of classes could result in ‘three-hour professors’ being left without a classroom in which to perform a final exam ,should Cannon’s idea be implemented without proper planning.

However, should the proponents of the changes to the final exam week demonstrate that the university can reliably schedule lengthy final exams while also accommodating the classes of professors who choose not to hold full-length finals, Welchman stated he would readily support the changes.

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