Given the unprecedented end-of-semester challenges from the Camp Fire, it’s ok to ask yourself “Do I really need to administer a traditional final exam?” If the answer is yes because it’s a required high-stakes exam for a certificate or a gateway exam to the next course in the sequence, then by all means, administer it. If, however, you plan to give a written final exam purely because that’s just what professors have always done, then consider a few possible alternatives for students to demonstrate their learning.
- Ask students to apply what they’ve learned by connecting your course material to other classes they’ve had, or to the current social, economic, scientific, or political context
- Enhance inclusivity by allowing students to develop some of the final exam questions or essay prompts
- Have students present their work to each other in a poster session, portfolio reveal, gallery walk, or some other event
The university requires that classes meet at the designated time during finals week. I encourage you to explore innovative possibilities to make that a meaningful, worthwhile, and perhaps even enjoyable culminating experience for students. Provost Larson’s 11/30 e-mail noted that there may be exceptions to the required final exam policy, especially this semester, so you have some latitude to be intellectually creative with your assessments.