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Policies and Guidelines

Guidelines Regarding Final Examinations

These guidelines were developed to help chairpersons make decisions about which courses may be exempted from having a final examination during the fifteenth week of the semester. While the guidelines may appear to be restrictive, they are necessary for clarity, uniformity, and accountability. While there are alternatives to final examinations, they should be offered only in appropriate situations.

  1. In accordance with long-standing practice and the support of a sizeable portion of the faculty, it is generally agreed that a final examination supports the maintenance of academic standards and is sound academic policy.
  2. According to the New York State Education Department, a "semester hour means a credit, point, or other unit granted for the satisfactory completion of a course which requires at least 15 hours (of 50 minutes each) of instruction and at least 30 hours of supplementary assignments. This basic measure must be adjusted proportionately to translate the value of other academic calendars and formats of study in relation to the credit granted for study during the two semesters which comprise an academic year."

The academic calendar at Queens College calls for a fourteen-week term, with the fifteenth week reserved for final examinations. Note that that fifteenth week is provided to give students time to prepare for final examinations without conflicting with other course commitments. If one class has an examination in the fourteenth week, while classes are still in session, students often feel the need to “cut” their other courses so they can prepare for the fourteenth-week examination. Clearly the lack of standardization is a hardship for some students and creates inequitable conditions for faculty.

In summary, then:

  1. It is good academic practice to conclude courses offered at Queens College with a formal final examination, or the last in a series of shorter examinations. These examinations should be given during the fifteenth week of the semester.
  2. There are other courses for which reasonable alternatives to final examinations exist. Such courses might include seminars, studio and performance courses, certain laboratory courses, student teaching, etc. All such courses should, however, include appropriate summative evaluation activities.
  3. Classroom examinations given during the first fourteen weeks of the semester do not satisfy the requirement for a final examination or an alternative summative evaluation.
  4. Whenever possible, summative evaluation activities should take place during the fifteenth week of the semester.
  5. Waivers from the requirement for a formal final examination during the fifteenth week of the semester must be obtained from the department chairperson, who will judge the appropriateness of:
    1. An alternative to a formal final examination, such as a take-home examination, which is distributed and returned during the fifteenth week;
    2. An alternate summative evaluation such as a final term paper which is submitted and graded during the fifteenth week, or a juried trial in art studio performed during the fifteenth week of the semester; or
    3. Additional activities in special courses in other than the fifteenth week of the semester, such as extra field trips and reports or extra assignments and conferences with students.
  6. At the end of the thirteenth week, the chairperson should submit a list of exempted courses and the reasons for such exemption to the appropriate divisional dean.

NOTE: New York State requirements for credits and college assumptions about final examinations also apply during Intersession and Summer Session.


 
 

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Elizabeth Hendrey
Acting Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
elizabeth.hendrey@qc.cuny.edu


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