Editorial: Should heavily weighted course material be eliminated?

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Every student is different in terms of how they strive. Some strive because they’re good at test taking and prefer exam-style courses. Others prefer working on essays, presenting or other styles. No teaching or course method should be eliminated, but what can be improved is the weight of midterms, exams or assignments.

Some midterms and final exams can reach as high as 40-50 per cent of a course grade, which is ridiculous and stressful for students. It brings an increase of nerves and worry between the moment a student begins to study to the wait of getting their mark back. Those unhealthy nerves can continue if the returned mark is poor and creates anxiety if the student will pass the course.

I’ve had many people tell me about highly weighted assignments in several diverse subjects at the post-secondary level. High weighted material means less course work, but fail or do poorly on a 40 per cent midterm and it’s tough to get yourself out of that hole.

We talk about mental illness, anxiety and stress increasing for university students. We discuss ways to overcome these matters. Yet something like a 40 per cent midterm or anything worth such a high percentage is only going to add to the anxiety and stress.

Would you rather have a midterm worth 20 per cent and an assignment worth 20 per cent? It’s going to be double the work, but do poorly on one of the two, you have the chance to do better on the other. Sure, some students may disagree with the 20-20, but doesn’t the lower percentage alone lower stress and anxiety?

Many people I spoke to prior to writing this article agreed that lower weight on course material is easier to navigate, even if it means doing more work.

Students already have enough pressure on them, let alone knowing half their grade depends on one assignment. Imagine weighing a midterm at 20 per cent and taking the other 20 (of the 40 per cent it may have been) and creating four mini five per cent assignments. More work for the student and more grading for the professors, but less panic on the part of students.

Heavily weighted assignments do one thing, and that’s motivate students. You see that 40 per cent midterm and you want to study more. However, while studying, the weight of the midterm or assignment lingers in the back of your mind, which can affect the overall result.

I don’t know if people will agree with me to avoid 40-50 per cent weighted course material, but it’s something to consider. Personally, give me more work weighted less than one major midterm or exam that can and will affect my overall grade significantly.

There’s just over a month left until December exams, which is only a few weeks to get grades boosted — however, it’s still midterm season so students may not even have half their grade yet. Stress levels are high during this time of the year, we need to consider all options to allow students to remain a little calmer.

Do you agree that highly weighted course material should be eliminated from courses? Let us know your thoughts on our social media by tweeting us at @TheBrockPress.

-Satbir Singh

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