Finals Week: How Will it Pan Out?
Jackson Volenec – Reporter
The international pandemic that we are currently in the midst of has affected each and every person in at least some major way, with millions of people out of work, being forced to relocate, or potentially get sick themselves. This has seeped into the world of education as well, as all schools in Connecticut along with most other places, have fully suspended in-person classes and residence life in exchange for online classes. Has this drastic transition been a smooth one? How are finals going to turn out this semester?
I would not say it has been the most seamless transition here at Southern. We made the switch from in-person classes to fully online in the middle of the midterm week, with little to no warning that such a change was underway in the days leading up to it. Many students were in the middle of their groove, and unfortunately had their lives completely uprooted, as many of them were forced to go back to live with their families in their hometown.
As to be expected, this abrupt switch has resulted in some drops in grades, as it took many students a couple of days or weeks to fully adjust to the new changes. The university is aware of how these circumstances are less than ideal, which is why they are implementing the pass/fail option for students to choose this semester. This is a necessary decision, as many courses utilized labs and computer software most students do not have access to at home.
But now, it has been a few weeks of the online-exclusive semester, and I think that most students and faculty know what to expect. Despite the fact that we may be used to it all, there is still a great amount of uncertainty on how finals week is going to turn out. Some students are confused as to whether or not we’re even going to have one.
I think having a finals week during the quarantine pandemic is going to be a very messy, dishonest experience that is going to result in a lot of inaccurate test scores. There are a great deal of people who prefer to not take exams online, as they feel that they are better versed in a physical format such as paper and utensil. These people could potentially score lower than they would’ve if they had just taken the exam in person as originally planned.
There are also people on the other side of the coin — those who are going to completely cheat on their finals since they are online. When taking an exam or test on Blackboard, there is nothing stopping an individual from looking everything up online, or having a tab with the lecture notes open, or having their notebook right in front of them. As a result, there will be these inflated test scores from the cheaters, as well as underperforming students who do not thrive in an online environment.
The question that remains knowing these things is: why even have a finals week? Is it really necessary to add on multiple exams to summarize what we have all learned in this chaotic, messy, and unfair time? The question becomes even more hard to ignore when you consider that many of the test scores will be inaccurate and academic dishonesty may take place that cannot be stopped.
It is no one individual’s fault that we are in such a wild time, but it is all of our collective responsibility that we do what we can to make the best of the situation. I think it is worth discussing on whether or not we should have a finals week, as hosting all these finals online is not going to result in accurate test scores, and I do not see the point of it if nothing but an honor system is in place to prevent academic dishonesty.