Fall 2015 final exam dates will be split between two weeks, running from Dec. 16-22., due to state law, federal law and University of Wisconsin System guidelines.
“It will be interesting to try out,” said junior Nathanael Rice. “It really depends on the student’s final exam schedule because it may benefit some but hurt others.”
UW-Stevens Point offers five final exam dates each semester.
“Crossing these five final exam days over a two-week period is not something new for UW-Stevens Point,” said Dan Kellogg, registrar and director of new student orientation. “In recent years, the overlap of weeks occurred in 2010-11 and will occur again in 2015-16. In 2005, the five-day exam period also included a Saturday exam date.”
State law indicates the academic calendar must include 39 contiguous weeks from start to finish, and the university is prohibited from beginning classes before Sept. 2.
“During a four-month semester, we must include 15 to 16 weeks of instruction and attempt to end the exam period before December 23,” Kellogg said. “The fall schedule, with holidays, creates for some scheduling issues, but the calendar schedule that we have outlined has been done in the past to allow for the allotted instructional contact hours.”
Communication Professor Mark Tolstedt said the change in the exam schedule will not impact him as an instructor.
“The real trick is to preserve at least three days prior to Dec. 25 so that students can get home to family,” Tolstedt said. “They also need to keep in mind that teachers need some time as well so their grades might not be turned in before the first of January.”
Tolstedt said the university is exploring other ways to structure classes. He said administrators are considering weekend and night classes or a switch to a competency-based system where all classes would be online, then once a student demonstrates competency, they would be finished.
“All of this stuff is in the works, and we’re trying to figure out how to make ourselves more available for the students’ needs and desires,” Tolstedt said.
Typically, the university ensures that there is a reading day between the last day of instruction and the first day of exams.
“If we went to 60-minute classes and then had a whole week that was preparation time for exams, that could break it up quite easily,” Tolstedt said. “The question is would students actually take that week to study or would they do what most students do and take that time to work so they can pay the bills.”
Since the fall term is not beginning until Wednesday, Sept. 2, the university must ensure that no instruction takesplace on either Monday, Aug. 31, or Tuesday, Sept. 1. In addition, all Monday courses will not meet on Labor Day, Sept. 7.
“To make up for this loss of two Mondays and a Tuesday, fall instruction ends on Tuesday, Dec. 15,” said Todd Huspeni, interim associate vice chancellor for teaching, learning and academic programs.
“We would be happy for students and faculty to know that the rule about when we can start a fall term is a Wisconsin law for public institutions,” Huspeni said. “We’d see much greater flexibility if we were not so constrained by our start date.”