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A Professor’s Take on Finals

What do professors have to say about finals week?

By Onalivia Smith, Designer

Just imagine; it’s 1:00 AM and you’re sitting in your room. Notes and project rubrics flood your desk, as you try to study and complete assignments without tipping over your third cup of coffee. Time passes and it’s 3:00. You have a class at 8:00. Should you pull an all-nighter to complete the essay, or should you go to bed now, and then wake up at 6:00 so you can finish it before class? 

Has this ever happened to you? If so, then you’ve experienced finals week before. Though we find finals week stressful, and the projects never ending, students are not the only ones having a difficult time. Let’s see what some of our HU professors have to say.

Dr. Alexander, from the philosophy department, shares his thoughts about what stresses him out during finals week.

“By far the most stressful thing about finals week for me is grading. We have grading deadlines (which I sometimes fail to meet) which means that I have to grade a total of about 150 final exams within a few days.”

Dr. David Alexander, Associate Professor of Philosophy

Dr. Benjamin, from the psychology department, also shares a similar response.

“The most stressful thing about finals week is all the grading that needs to be done — while at the same time people are still scheduling meetings. There’s a lot of work to do, and procrastination just isn’t an option.”

The stress of grading exams seem to be one aspect of teaching that every educator can agree on. Even Dr. Rowley from the communications department feels the same way.

“The most stressful part is completing all the grading before the deadline established by the registrar’s office.”

Though many feel similar about the grading process, many professors have a different way of preparing for finals. Dr. Alexander’s process looks like this:

“I try to rewrite either all or portions of every final exam I give. Sometimes this is required due to changes in course content, covering similar course content differently, or required to maintain sanity.”

Dr. Benjamin describes a different approach to her process, saying that it really just depends on the class.

“In some classes I give a cumulative final exam, while in others, I simply give the last non-cumulative exam during finals week. In other classes, I have students run activities or presentations in class with their peers. I have to admit, that last situation is usually the most fun.”

Dr. Rowley seems to have a very structured process, unless he’s behind schedule.

“Exams are typically ready 3-5 days prior to finals week. If I’m behind schedule it’s a mad, frantic, panicked dash to get everything in place so I can at least appear to be ready & composed when I face my students.”

While students despise finals and fear them tremendously, we need to remember that our professors are NOT out to get us. They don’t want to see us fail; they want us to succeed and feel like we’ve learned something. Dr. Alexander believes that finals are a way of both assessing the student, as well as the professor and the course. 

“At least for me, final exams are not meant to hurt or harm students. They are meant to reveal to both the student and the professor where the student is at in terms of grasping the course content, and whether the professor has done a good job of helping students grasp it. In some cases, what must be done is a bit of retooling of the course to help students grasp material more deeply or differently.”

For Dr. Benjamin, she wants her students to know that, “I’m totally cheering for them. I never design a class with the purpose of ‘weeding out the weak’ and I don’t get mad at a student for not doing well. I want to help people get stronger and fulfill the purposes that God has called them to, whatever those purposes might be.”

Dr. Becky Benjamin, Associate Professor of Psychology and Department Chair

Dr. Rowley gives us some helpful advice for finals week, stating that, “many professors will give hints and some even give clear direction regarding what to study for the exam. Also, professors are creatures of habit. Study HOW they test, as well as content on the test.”

With finals week just around the corner, remember this: it is a difficult time for everyone. Whether you are a student or a professor, just remember that you are human. We all mess up, get stressed, or make mistakes. Some of us may fail our finals, or fail to meet grading deadlines. If any of this happens to you, it’s okay. “Failing” at something does not define who you are as a person. Remember that God loves you no matter what you got on the final, or how you taught the class. God loves you no matter what.

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