Early morning final exams have been a concern for more than just students this year.
The Faculty Senate invited University of Idaho Registrar Heather Chermak to Tuesday’s senate meeting to discuss concerns they had regarding the 7:30 a.m. time slot for final exams.
During the meeting, Chermak opened the floor for discussion about the topic and allowed senators to ask questions and express their concerns.
Faculty Senate Vice Chair Patrick Hrdlicka said he heard from students and faculty who weren’t happy with 7:30 a.m. final exams. He said this is because students don’t function properly so early in the morning.
It’s not just the students who are affected by the early exam time. Hrdlicka said faculty may find it hard to make it to final exams during the fall due to poor weather conditions.
Chermak said if there were any changes made to the finals schedule, it could cause significant conflict with the Office of the Registrar.
Determining the final exam schedule is a strategic process, he said. Chermak said the office initially came up with the schedule by studying the standard time slots for courses, taking that information and spreading it throughout the week.
Senior Associate Registrar Dwaine Hubbard said they came up with the schedule around five years ago.
“We identified all of the standard meeting times and patterns before 5 p.m. each day of the week, and then plotted that out into two-hour time periods throughout a week for final exams,” Hubbard said.
Although there is little room for change in the finals schedule, Hubbard said there is usually one or two empty time slots. The university also doesn’t offer final exams between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to allow students time for dinner.
Faculty Senate Chair Liz Brandt said there is a concern with 7:30 a.m. finals regarding how they affect a student’s overall academic performance.
“I think part of the concern was that there’s a lot of research out there that indicates, particularly with younger students, that the intellectual functioning at that hour isn’t at a very high level,” Brandt said.
Another topic which sparked discussion was the length of finals week. Sen. Caroline Payant of the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences said she was confused with the finals week time period and wondered why it couldn’t stretch out a few more days.
The concern with a longer finals week is that moving into Dead Week could cause a potential conflict with final lab schedules, Chermak said.
“We’re trying to limit as many conflicts as we can for our students,” Chermak said.
Brandt said while having close experience working with law students who have two-week finals schedule, she noticed it is a physically grueling experience for them. She said it can be hard for a student to sustain their intellectual energy over such an extended period of time.
After examining another idea of shifting the schedule with potential later exam times, Brandt said there is also a need to keep non-traditional students in mind.
“Once you extend those exams past the close of the business day, our non-traditional students are really going to have child care issues and those kinds of things that I think we need to be more sympathetic to,” Brandt said.
Savannah Cardon can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @savannahlcardon