Harvard Getting Rid of Final Exams

Finals. The grueling exam ritual of each college class has inspired many a coffee-fueled all-nighter. But are finals becoming a thing of the past? Harvard University says yes. According to The Huffington Post, Harvard Magazine says that final exams are “going the way of the dodo.”

Last spring, only 23 percent of the school’s 1,137 undergraduate courses gave exams. And a new faculty vote dictates that a professor must actively decide whether or not to give a final within the first week of class (in the past, the final ritual was a given.) But professors question whether finals are really the best assessment of student performance – and they dislike the responsibility of proctoring and grading them.

There are certainly plenty of final assessment options, from papers to oral presentations to group projects. But are students and professors just being lazy by skipping the final exam? The National Review says yes: “…Given Harvard’s reputation as a trendsetter, we should expect better. Just imagine: Students will be delighted to forgo finals, and instructors will be thrilled not to have to create or grade them. Everybody finishes the semester earlier. (The last few weeks of class don’t really count when that material won’t be tested!)”

What do you think? Honestly, I never had a ton of finals in my college courses, because I took mostly literature, writing and media classes that involved papers and projects. But for more fact-based curriculum like science and math, are exams necessary? Maybe instead of a behemoth final, profs should instate a combination of papers, exams, presentations and projects. It’s all about critical thinking, not regurgitating of facts. Let’s just hope the end of finals isn’t about laziness.