“Is the final going to lower/raise my grade?” I hear it all the time. It’s the most common question I get this time of year because it’s almost finals week. Panic has started to increase. Students are on edge. Some feel they have a lot to lose, others are able to coast. I’ve never liked that difference. The final can mean everything to some and nothing to others. This year, I decided that whatever their grade is, the final cannot lower it. Side note — they actually have to take the final and seriously. When I told them the news, the students relaxed. Most of them started to pay attention more. The final became one more stepping stone in learning instead of just points to be gathered.
The students have done everything I asked. They have been amazing this semester. They wrote, read, and analyzed. I don’t want them to stress out in the final week of the semester. Also, this is a year-long course and having a final midway is difficult to “assess.” Since letting them know I’m happier and the students are happier. Ultimately, students are able to learn more. They don’t have stress blocking them. They started to ask questions about what we were learning instead of how much is the final worth. They wanted to explore what they don’t know instead of asking for a study guide with the specific things on the test.