Debate Rounds (3)
Finals exams are generally given at the very end of a class, are more often then not comprehensive for the semester, and are often standardized to be multiple choice, or short answer.
The purpose of an exam is to evaluate whether a student has learned the material covered in the course.
The grade fitted to the exam (and sometimes clauses resulting in auto fails of class if the exam is failed) is designed to then reflect the students measured exam score in the final class score in determining if the student is applicable to be listed as 'passed' for the class.
Final exams ultimately fail at doing these things, and failing their purpose without providing any noticable benefits over possible alternatives, and therefore are not worthwhile for students.
My argument is based on the contentions that exams fail to judge a students retention and understanding of a class, and that the grades generated do not fairly and accurately affect the pass/fail status of students.
When your typical final exam happens, what does your typical responsible student do? They study. For a rather extended period.
Why? Because a single comprehensive exam at the end of a semester is not a good way to judge a students retention of material from the beginning of the semester.
Many classes are structured such that many of the beginning materials may not be referred to, except on review days, and then the day of the final itself. Even in classes which continuously build upon material, still end up pushing the details of the earlier material out of focus in favor of the newest materials.
In a traditional class structure, material is evaluated in chuncks via normal exams, and then comprehensively as a final exam.
So that initial content of the class is evaluated by the first exam, but that grade is meaningless when the student has to decide what to study for when finals come, as so much time has passed that they may no longer remember the material, or that they may have better learned the material.
The final exam basically becomes a measurement of how well you studied in the last few days.
Final exams, generally to save time for both the students and the grading proctor, are standardized.
This means they become, at least partially, multiple choice and short answer.
In evaluating the knoweldge and retention of a student, multiple choice is poor.
A complete guess can have anywhere from a 20% to a 50% chance depending on the number of choices and number of completely obvious wrong answers.
Therefore the format of many final exams, and the timing of them both cause them to fail at evaluating a student properly.
Since final exams do not properly evaluate students, you can already expect the affect on grades to be improper as well.
However even beyond that, final exams generally represent a large portion of a final grade, and in some instances even require a passing grade on the final to pass the class.
When it comes to application of the skill the class conveyed, often times your usage of that skill will not involve reciting facts off of memory, or doing a series of short answer problems also off of memory, yet the class deems you a failure if you cannotdo those things.
More often than not you'll have access to abundant reference materials when applying whatever skill you are being taught, and it would make more sense therefore for the grade to more accurately reflect that.
Finally, exams are partially meant to give the student and proctor a means of judging how well the material is beinh learned, but the final exam doesn't give the student any opportunities to improve in that class any longer, nor does it give the proctor any opportunity or incentive to instruct the students on what they did not understand.
Just as well, being on one set day can invite poor circumstance to have a significant impact.
Some days people get sick. Sometimes people call in and reschedule (which can be difficult) but other times they'll come in anyways. Trying to do a final when sick, or when tired, or when sad, or so on can negatively impact the score, in a way that is absolutely not related to the subject, or the the student's understanding of the subject.
A far better system of evaluation would be a consistent series of weekly mini-tests, each covering the new material as well as select portions of older material in such a way that no concept goes more than a few weeks without being tested.
This way with a large number of frequent evaluations, learning speed and retention can be evaluated, and it gives students more opportunities to realize that they do not understand a concept and to seek help.
In conclusion, because final exams ultimately fail at their purpose and have an improper effect of the pass/fail status of students, they are not worthwhile or good for students.
fisherboy268 forfeited this round.
Final exams are not worthwhile for the student or institution issuing them.
fisherboy268 forfeited this round.
MegaAfroMan forfeited this round.
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