Semester finals are unnecessary

Semester finals do not benefit grades, comprehension or college preparation

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Stephen Vukovits

Megaphone Staff

After 18 weeks of arduous labor, students are finally awarded a break…once they take tests covering the entire year’s material. But these finals are more than unfair. They are unnecessary.

Many are apprehensive that students will not be prepared for the “real world” if their success is based on how well they can remember material they frantically read through the night before and regurgitated on a scantron. This is a legitimate concern which was addressed in a solution proposed by John Dewey in the early 1900s.

Dewey, an influential American philosopher in the reformation of society and education, introduced the idea of project-based learning. Since then, studies have found that projects are much more beneficial than testing.

A study on a sixth-grade science class found that projects cause a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the material, and other studies on science classes show that projects lend themselves towards real-world skills, such as problem solving and time management. The researchers concluded that allowing students to come to their own conclusions rather than repeat what they have memorized leads to better retention of the material.

The remaining supporters of finals cling to the arguments that high school finals prepare the students for college, yet this is increasingly rarer.

As early as 2010, the July-August Harvard Magazine reported that finals would no longer be given regularly by most professors. Undergraduate classes had 259 finals out of 1,137 offered classes, and of the 500 graduate classes, only 14 gave finals.

Yet not only do finals not assist once in college, they do not aid in acceptance either. At the most finals weigh in at 20 percent of the semester grade. If a student received an 85 percent for each quarter and managed to earn a perfect score on his or her final, the semester grade would be an 88 percent. The truth is that finals will not do much in raising that semester grade.

Finals, helping neither grades, college preparations, or real-world readiness, are nonessential after students have proven for 18 weeks that they deserve a break.

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