• putting it all together

    Posted on April 25th, 2012 kr No comments

    At the end of the semester there is usually some sort of rush to the finish, some sort of final dash where students seem to become overwhelmed with the impending finals and deadlines for final projects and research papers.  Is this a problem? What is happening in the first 12 weeks of classes that leads to such an overload at the end of the semester?  I’d like to say it is not the students’ fault; that they cannot help it that large assignments are due all at the same time or that they have final exams in all of their classes. But really, what is the problem?  These assignments are most likely listed in the syllabus from the first week of classes. Hopefully information on them was also handed out early.  As for the exams, well, if you have a final exam odds are you have been having exams all semester, so why is the final such a stresser?

    Perhaps there are some things we as instructors could do to make the end of the semester a less stressful time; maybe we could require pieces of final papers be turned in at various stages through the semester. Maybe we could be sure to not weight the final too much more heavily than any other exam (unless it’s in an area where synthesis of the knowledge and skills learned through the course is crucial, in which case, I’d say it’s necessary.) But isn’t there a level of personal responsiblity on the part of the student? How can we motivate them to be responsible and engaged in their learning and see assignments as tools to help them instead of something meant to burden them in their already busy lives?

    Maybe this is where the learner centered approach to class development could come in handy.  If students felt that they had contributed to the schedule of the course and the due dates of assignments and materials and even helped develop or decide which assignments to keep in the course and which would be less useful perhaps they would be motivated to get the work done earlier, to enjoy it, or at least to own it.

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