Professors weigh in on the benefits and disadvantages of midterms

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Professors weigh in on the benefits and disadvantages of midterms

Photo by Benjamin Erickson / benjamin.a.erickson@marquette.edu

Photo by Benjamin Erickson / benjamin.a.erickson@marquette.edu

Photo by Benjamin Erickson / benjamin.a.erickson@marquette.edu

Photo by Benjamin Erickson / benjamin.a.erickson@marquette.edu

Gary Leverton, Higher Education Reporter

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When midterm time rolls around, some professors assign exams or papers. Others plan their classes without really considering midterms at all.

Theology professor Samantha Miller said she doesn’t give out a midterm exam. Instead, she assigns three exams with smaller assignments and papers to make sure she is checking in with her students throughout the semester.

Engineering professor Barbara Silver-Thorn said she gives an exam every five weeks so that she isn’t creating the pressure of only having two exams which determine grades.

Miller said it’s good for professors to give mid-term grades, but when it comes to exams and class structure, she said it should be up to each professor.

“It wouldn’t be a good idea to dictate classes,” Miller said. “Every class is their own and must be treated that way.”

Journalism and media studies professor Karen Slattery said she thinks it’s important to check in with her students throughout the semester. She said midterms are a way to do this.

“You want to check progression and understanding with midterms,” Slattery said. “I think that is important, just as important as assignments along the way because it is a semester-long learning process.”

Physical therapy professor Danielle Parker uses midterms similarly to see how her students are doing at the halfway point.

“It helps me gauge where students are halfway through the semester,” Parker said. “It is a learning tool.”

Parker said she knows that when midterms come around, stress levels go up and teaching her class becomes more difficult. She said changing what she does and being more interactive to get her students’ attention has been productive.

Slattery said she thinks professors can be so trained to think in terms of having a midterm that the idea of doing something else isn’t considered.

When considering whether midterm exams should be treated extra like finals, Parker said that students having more time to study would be more helpful.

Miller said midterms shouldn’t be elevated the way finals are because they are meant to be a check-in point. She said she doesn’t think there needs to be more time allotted for studying because the exam shouldn’t be as long as a final. However, she wouldn’t mind if there were options for students with three midterm exams on the same day like there are during finals week.

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