It’s that time of the year again. Spring Break is past us, and it’s the homestretch to finals week. If you’re the type of student who scrambles to bring their grade up during the last few weeks of school, you are not alone. Luckily for us scramblers, some professors offer extra credit to help those that need a push to pass the class. But not all professors have the same teaching strategies.
Sander Lee is a professor of communication and philosophy at Keene State College. On his final exam, he said he creates the test so that there are two extra points awarded to students who get the correct answers. “I build into [the final exam] at least two extra points of extra credit that you can get by doing well on the final,” he said. “I don’t have an extra credit question, but when added all up, it’s added up to having two extra points.”
Lee said he tries to be fair when allowing late or makeup work. He shared a story about a time when he was an undergraduate. Lee said, “My alarm clock didn’t go off, and I was late to an exam and as a result I did very poorly on [the] exam, and I thought at that time, ‘If I ever become a teacher I’d want to help students so they don’t throw away a whole semester’s worth of work because their alarm clock didn’t go off.’” He said he tries to be flexible and fair.
As for students who wait until the last few weeks of school to bring up their GPA, Lee said it’s unfortunate, but that he encourages students to work hard at every point of the semester. He said he spends the final two classes to prepare for the final exam. “I want to do everything I can to support students to do well whenever they decide to start doing it.”
KSC sophomore Chrissi Blunden said she gets stressed during the last few weeks of school. “Many professors are trying to cram final material in,” she said. “I think it would help with the stress of students if they could earn extra credit.”
Dodging stress the final weeks of school can bring is nearly impossible. Lee said he uses a tactic to help de-stress students during the final exam. “I usually give enough time in the final so there’s time for you to take a five minute break if you need to, just to relax,” he said. He said he encourages students to fill in every question, regardless if they know the answer or not, so they can receive some type of credit.
Blunden said she believes most professors “pile on work at the end of the semester to make up for time lost if [the professor] fell behind in class.”
Dr. Michael Antonucci is an associate professor of american studies at KSC. He said he uses the “back loading” technique. “If the students have been going along learning the process and doing their assignments and learning how to work in different ways with material they may not be familiar with, then the end of the semester is when they can pull it all together.” Antonucci said it is “difficult to gain back what has gone away,” so he encourages students to work hard during the entire semester.
Antonucci said during his time as an undergraduate he did his fair share of end of the semester papers. He said he believes spending time on a final project or paper will result in a better grade for students. “I’ve seen and made what I called the ‘mistake of performance.’ The end performance is better if [they] were really working on a finished product rather than something that can be slapped, dashed and submitted late,” he said.
Antonucci said he encourages students to take advantage of the time they have leading up to finals week. “Time opens space for enhanced performance possibilities,” he said.
MacKenzie Clarke can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org