Reading Day very busy for students and faculty

Reading Day is known as the day students do last-minute preparation for final exams. But what do faculty do? From end-of-semester meetings to preparing the final exam, this is no day off for professors.

For Janet Hopkins, associate professor of voice and mezzo-soprano for the School of Music, her Reading Day is student-focused. Like every other day, her Reading Day is filled with music.

“Since my students are applied — meaning, one-on-one vocal students — we spend Reading Day singing,” Hopkins says. “For a final exam in their voice studio, all students must sing either a recital or a jury.”

Juries are when students prepare five or six pieces, from memory, in different languages.

“Students sing at least two juries for the vocal faculty, one of their choice, and one or two of ours. Many of my students will have a chance to sing through their songs one last time for any additional critiques or thoughts,” Hopkins says.

Augie Grant, J. Rion McKissick professor of journalism in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications spends his Reading Day in meetings.

“As chair of Faculty Senate, I can verify that Reading Day is an important day for faculty meetings,” Grant says. “The university Committee on Tenure and Promotions holds its informational meeting for candidates and a second meeting to train unit tenure and promotions chairs.”

Reading Day is also the day that the university holds the spring general faculty meeting, chaired by President Harris Pastides.

“Bottom line, any faculty member involved in faculty governance is likely to be in meetings much of that day,” Grant says.

For David Snyder, senior history instructor, part of his Reading Day is spent preparing the final exam.

"In my classes, the bulk of the exams come from the students themselves,” Snyder says. “They set the final exam questions in the class.”

His students submit questions for the final exam during the review session. Students generate multiple choice, short answer and essay questions.

“The opportunity with this, is that students have the chance to reflect on what they’ve learned and what they think they can answer well,” Snyder says. “This gives them ownership over the course content.”

From this list of student submissions, Snyder spends his Reading Day creating the final exam in his courses.

Karen Edwards, associate director for distributed learning for the Center for Teaching Excellence at the university has tips for faculty to make the most out of Reading Day.

“Aside from attending faculty meetings or catching up on other tasks, Reading Day can be an opportunity to better serve students,” Edwards says.

The tips Edwards offers are:

  • Make an effort to be available to students either in the office or via email, in case questions arise as they prepare for their final exams. Providing help when they need it can greatly reduce student anxiety levels.
  • Ask a colleague to read the exam to make sure all test items and instructions are understandable and do not cause confusion for your students.
  •  If you distribute a paper-based exam, be sure to double-check the documents for typographical errors before printing. For online exams, double-check your settings to ensure that the exam will go live at the expected time. 
  • For face-to-face courses, remind students about the date, day, time and room number for the final exam. Because they are often scheduled differently than your class sessions, students sometimes become confused about the day and time for finals. 
  • For online courses, remind students of the time and length of the exam, and reinforce the importance of securing a well-functioning computer and reliable Internet service before accessing the exam.

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