Professors prepare final exams for their students
May 5, 2010
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As most Bakersfield College students may have noticed, finals are coming up. This means stress, last minute cram sessions, panic attacks, and, for the rare few, a feeling of ease and preparedness. However, that’s just how it is for students.
How are finals for the professors and instructors of BC? After all, it’s not like those exams just magic themselves into existence.
For some professors, such as Nancy Magner who teaches art appreciation and art history, an exam can take two to two and a half hours to prepare. Once the students complete the exam, it must be graded. For some teachers, that means feeding a menagerie of Scantrons through the machine; for others, it means carefully reading multiple essays-it could even be, more commonly, a combination of the two.
While multiple choice exams might be a lot easier to grade, essay questions give the faculty an opportunity to get a real feel for what students have learned throughout the semester. “The essay is a reflection on all the writing a student has done over the course of the semester,” said Kate Pluta in regards to her English B1a course.
“These essays are a pleasure to read;?usually the student voices shine through.? It is also a strategy on my part to have students work on the meta-cognitive level,” said Pluta.
Final exams comprise a portion of the student’s grade in the class and that graded weight, according to various BC faculty, can be anywhere from a mere 10 percent to a whopping 30 percent. For some classes, a final exam can make or break your semester, while in others it can mean bumping that high B to a low A.
What does BC faculty expect from their students this semester? For many, they expected a wide variety of scores, perhaps leaning toward better results than worse ones, while others, such as Magner, expect her students to do very well in general. Most expect the outcome to be similar to that of past semesters.
For some students, the final exam might be a short series of multiple-choice questions, while for others it can take up the entire amount of time given for the exam and truly test their knowledge. As the faculty at BC are very varied in their teaching methods, so, too, are their methods for testing their students.
In classes where the material studied is less text-based, such as theater, Kimberly Chin’s Theater B1 class, which is Beginning Acting, is tested on the skills each student learned rather than memorized terms. “The students’ final exam is a five-minute scene performance. ?Students find a scene partner within the class and select their five-minute scene from a published play, movie, TV series or an original script. ?I have directed each group in their scenes having anywhere from one to three 30 minute or longer rehearsals.”
How should students prepare for a final exam? According to Vic Posey, professor of automotive technology, “they should prepare throughout the semester. Too many students think the final is going to be totally different than the other exams and tasks they take all semester long. The final is a culmination of all of the information they have already been tested on. They need to realize that at the beginning of the semester and not wait until a week before the final to start cramming.” In Chin’s class, “Students need to rehearse with their partners, and on their own, as much as possible. ?Memorizing their lines quickly is essential. ?Commit fully to their characters; take ownership. ?Be confident. ?Students should warm-up extensively using vocal warm-ups, physical warm-ups and creativity warm-ups.”
Some professors offer study guides, while others-such as Daymond Johnson, professor of history,-suggest that students use the class lectures throughout the section as a study guide.