Should Hanover High Switch to Final Projects? – Opinion
Aside from more excursions to the Co-op or gatherings at Ramuntos, the week of semester exams is one of the more stressful times, especially within Hanover’s culture of academic excellence. While Rogerhub’s final grade calculator may keep some students at peace, what can we do to make this week more bearable for others at higher stakes? After all, ensuring students’ wellbeing is most important. One prominent idea that has come up from my interactions with students is that we could standardize final projects in place of final exams. I would certainly support this change.
First, the different approach that final projects take on learning makes it more valuable and tolerable than final exams. The upfront advantage of projects is that they relieve stress by taking the pressure of having to instantly transfer perfect knowledge onto paper off of students. Even prepared students may suffer under test anxiety, and sometimes a student’s undesirable performance in two hours is not always a complete indication of their abilities. Projects allow students to showcase everything they have learned throughout a course. Depending on the project, students may undertake research, presentations, performances, or compose write-ups. Projects promote organization, collaboration (if in a group), and more complicated problem-solving; these tasks involved are more representative of the real world and the workplace. People often have to complete projects for the companies they work out, but who has heard about employees receiving written tests?
In contrast, exams survey all the main topics in a course with limited depth to ensure appropriate lengths. Most students need to prepare for 5 or more exams, and diminishing returns emerge when reviewing turns into a race against time. To be more efficient, many would resort to learning only the bare bones of the tested material. There is simply not enough time to review everything in depth even for the organized student. In contrast, projects allow a student time to truly reflect on the course without fear of making mistakes or not focusing on the ‘right material’.
Exams do still have their merits of enhancing learning since they prepare students with important study skills for college. Some might say that exams are still more accurate indicators of learning, mainly because they cover more breadth in a much shorter way than projects do. It also seems more difficult for a teacher to create a good project in the maths and sciences. However, I myself have undertaken two successful final projects in math. They still worked out mainly due to how they were structured: the projects prompted me to explore a mathematical concept/method beyond class through writing my own problems, extending textbook concepts, and utilizing technology.
In general, final projects have the potential to reflect more meaningful learning and can be adapted to any class, making them superior to final exams. After finishing a project through hard work and determination, one may for once enjoy the end of the semester. I hope I got you thinking on the possibility of having final projects in place of final exams.