Rethink Finals

The end of the semester is upon us. A season many students, and instructors, dread…final exam season. Over the last week, I have been thinking about the effectiveness of my exams. Not all, but many are your typical exam. I started to plan review games, worksheets, or outlines and thought, “Is this helping me know what they know?” Since then I have been on a mission to change the end of my semester.

A few websites have sparked some ideas, and I want to share them with you. While non of this is earth-shattering information, my hope is that it inspires you to rethink your finals.

Student-Generated Exam

The first idea is a student-generated exam. In the past, I have done reviews in groups and gave each group a topic from the semester. They generated 4 questions to ask the other groups. I also told them that two of those questions would be on the final exam. They seemed to enjoy the fact that their question would be on the final. One student called it “free points” since they new the answers.

In the past that has worked, but what if they created the entire exam? Students submit questions and answers for their final. There are definite pros and cons to this approach; however, I believe it would be an effective way for students to assess their own knowledge.

The Creative Final

Ask your class, “What type of final would you do best on?” With each response, you answer, “OK, that’s fine!” With the diverse learning styles in a classroom, you will not find one exam that fits all your students. So why not let them choose the final that best fits them? One student may say they do best on multiple choice. Great! Then they write their own multiple choice test. Another may be visual and would like to create an info graph of all the topics discovered. Do it!

With the diverse learning styles in a classroom, you will not find one exam that fits all your students. So why not let them choose the final that best fits them?

As an instructor, you will obviously have to set some broad guidelines, but why not let the students assess their knowledge in the way they learn best? This idea intrigued me and I plan on implementing it into one of my courses this semester.

Connect content to real-world

In the same article as above, I found a Disaster Simulator. It’s a good read, and with great planning on the instructor’s part, incredibly effective. This exam forced the wheels in my head to start turning even more. I have one course where they understand the connection between the content and the real world use; however, they feel the steps it takes to get from A to B are overkill. Because I need them to understand the importance, I want to implement my own simulator. While I will not be able to do this in the current semester, I have already begun plans for next semester.

Looks like I have my work cut out for me. What creative final exams do you give your students?

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