There is little doubt that finals week can be a stressful and trying time for college students. Late night study sessions, last-minute cramming and lack of sleep do little to reduce the anxiety most students feel as the semester wraps up. But the Washburn Student Government Association is working on a plan to give students a little relief.
WSGA President Garrett Love and Vice President Caley Onek are working with WSGA to implement a policy that eliminates examinations, major course assignments and projects during the week prior to Finals Week. The main purpose of this policy is to reduce the stress that many students face when they have to prepare for a regular course exam, and then turn around the next week and take a comprehensive final.
Currently, there is no policy in place at Washburn that restricts faculty from giving examinations, major assignments and class projects or presentations the last week of classes for the semester.
“Professors have to realize that students have other finals and classes to focus on,” Love said. “We’re trying to help improve students’ success by giving them more time to prepare for finals.”
The policy will be coined Success Week, and was constructed after research and comparison to other institutions with similar policies already in place. The research reflected that out of the six Board of Regents schools, five of them have either a Dead Week, where students are not required to take exams or turn in major assignments, or Dead Days, where students are not required to attend classes at all in order to allow students time to study and prepare for finals. Numerous other universities and colleges have similar policies, including the University of Florida, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M to name a few.
As part of the policy, the last week of fall and spring undergraduate classes will be designated Success Week. The restrictions for this week require that no student organizations registered with the Student Activities and Greek Life Office may hold meetings or sponsor events without the expressed permission of designated staff of SAGL.
For academic purposes, faculty are encouraged to utilize Success Week as a time for review of course material in preparation for final exams. If an exam is to be given during Success Week, it must not be given during the last three days. Assignments worth no more than 10 percent of the final class grade and cover more than one-fourth of assigned material in the course can be required of students during this time period.
Also, major course assignments, including extensive research papers and projects, should be due the Friday prior to Success Week and should be assigned at the beginning of the semester. Any modifications to these assignments should be made in a timely fashion to give students adequate time to complete the assignment.
Finally, if major course assignments must be given during Success Week, they should be due no later than that Wednesday. This includes class presentations and semester-long projects that may take the place of a final examination.
Participation and attendance grades are still acceptable during Success Week, as is make-up assignments and tests, take-home exams and laboratory examinations. The restrictions of the week also do not apply to classes meeting only one day a week for more than one hour.
While this policy is intended to help students be successful, it is not at all intended to make things more difficult for faculty. If at any time instructors believe the policy jeopardizes or impairs their ability to teach, they may petition the Dean or chair of their department, who will monitor and evaluate this policy each semester.
Though the policy has been thoroughly researched and debated, it is still subject to change as it makes its way through the approval process. First, the policy must be approved by Academic Affairs. The draft will then be presented to the Faculty Senate in November, followed by the General Faculty (which only meets twice a year) in January. If the draft is approved by all three areas and WSGA itself, the program will be implemented.
“I think this is a really important issue that needs to be addressed,” said Love. “We’re excited about faculty having an interest and seeing the importance of passing this policy. I think this could be really good for the students of Washburn.”
WSGA is very supportive of this proposal, hoping that it will create a friendlier policy for stressed students cramming for finals.
The policy passed the initial approval process through Academic Affairs on Monday, Oct. 26 and is scheduled to be reviewed in front of the Faculty Senate in November.