Teachers differ on exam philosophies during finals week

With students hunched over their desks cramming for their upcoming final exams and finishing projects, professors are preparing just as much for the week most students dread.

Some professors have an idea of what their final exams will consist of far in advance or even a few weeks beforehand.

"I kind of came up with the vision for this year's final a week or two before Thanksgiving," Journalism Professor Ken McDonald said. "Sometimes it's just questions. Other times I'll have a more practical thing."

McDonald said finals week isn't very stressful for him but the week after is, when he grades the projects and tests from the week before.

"Once the finals come in and all that much grading has to be done, it can be a much more stressful situation," he said.

Biology Professor Jennifer Schisa prepares her final exam to include material from previous exams and readings along with a focus on the material from the latter half of the semester.

Schisa, who has been teaching at Central Michigan University for 11 years, said there are several faculty who rotate teaching the course and have a similar format.

"I follow the same general format, but we update a lot," she said. "The field is changing all the time with new discoveries."

For her classes, she prefers having short answer questions on tests rather than multiple choice.

"It's a better assessment to just not have multiple choice," she said. "I can see their understanding of the question and what they know."

Anthropology Professor Cameron Griffith keeps his final exams the same, but the exams themselves vary from class to class.

"Some courses you teach you have a master syllabus and it indicates a suggested framework for the class," Griffith said. "(About) 20 percent of the grade for the class is the final exam. That percentage is also equal to or greater, in some classes, to the participation grade."

He said some of his exams require students to look at different specimens and point out details, while others are a combination of multiple choice and essay questions.

"You want to be able to take the major concepts with you beyond the semester," he said.


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