Since finals are nearly upon us here (and since I’m not quite ready to face the next stack of papers that needs grading), I got to wondering how other academics feel about when the final exam ought to be written and why.
So, a quick poll:
A relevant question, I suppose, is whether what you think is the best time to write the exam from a pedagogical standpoint corresponds to when you actually get it written (owing to your other responsibilities, the unidirectional flow of time, and so forth). Lurking in here are also some worries about “teaching to the test” rather than having an exam that functions as a tool to determine how well your students learned the stuff that you believe it would be good and useful to know even if they weren’t being tested on it.
What’s your philosophy on final exams, and how does the fact that you have to give final exams influence your teaching leading up to them? (If you’re someone who teaches but doesn’t have to give final exams, tell us about how that works out.)