| 03.19.2018

Dead week dilemma – Professors find creative ways around university policy


Dead week has long been considered a time when students across the nation could receive some leniency in their courses and spend their free time preparing for upcoming final exams.

Historically, this week has allowed students the chance to catch a breath before launching into the final exams that serve as the climatic conclusion of the semester.

But at the University of Idaho, dead week has become synonymous with chaos and stress – the opposite of what it is usually known for.

Instead of spending time studying for finals, students are scrambling to complete a number of assigned projects and material for their classes, completely going against the original intention of dead week when school officials adopted the policy.

The official university policy states that instructors are not allowed to administer quizzes or exams during the specified time period, but professors have found ways around this rule. Some instructors change the title of a quiz in order to adhere to the policy, while others disguise the final as an end-of-the-year project. Occasionally, some professors will even blatantly ignore the school procedure and assign grade-altering exams during dead week.

In addition, lab courses remain immune from the dead week policy, allowing instructors to force students to take a cumulative practical covering an entire semester”s worth of material.

Josh Grissom

With a large number of faculty members dodging the policy in creative fashion, it is clear that something needs to change regarding the procedures of dead week. The burden of additional material doesn”t allow students to fully prepare for their finals. This in turn results in lower exam scores for many academic departments.

The original intent of dead week has been lost throughout the years, as more and more courses each semester schedule material that could make or break a student”s grade. At this point, drastic action is required before this trend on campus becomes irreversible.

The best strategy for UI would be to review the procedures for enforcing the policies of dead week to protect students from an unexpected workload that would hinder them from producing their best academic work.

While some would argue that shifting course material from finals week to dead week allows professors more time to grade, it also results in several detrimental aspects that impact the productivity and health of students. Sleep deprivation and stress are the two most prominent side effects of dead week, due to the academic overload.

At the current rate of the additional material added to dead week, it might make more sense for the university to completely eliminate finals week altogether, adding the cumulative exams to dead week instead. If students already have to slog their way through a stack of projects, essays and quizzes, what difference would an extra exam or two really make?

Ultimately, it is up to the administration to fully enforce the dead week policy. If the status quo continues, then students can expect dead week to remain one of the most stressful periods of their academic careers.

Josh Grissom can be reached at arg-opinion@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @GoshJrissom

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