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5 December 2013

Reading day reduction receives mixed feelings

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The changes to the academic calendar for the fall semester proved to be a double-edged sword for students and faculty.

Students were given a weeklong Thanksgiving break at the expense of a reading day that provides time for students to review for final exams. Last year, students had two reading days before the beginning of finals week.

In a poll conducted by The Miami Hurricane, 75 percent of students feel that one reading day is not enough time to prepare for exams; 13 percent of students felt that one reading day is sufficient, while 12 percent of students did not care either way.

A total of 61 students were polled as of 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Senior Daniella Sanchez, who has relied on the two-day reading period in the past, now has to change her study plan. She is worried about finishing classes in addition to starting to prepare early for exams.

“It just means I have to start preparing earlier, studying for finals in between going to classes,” she said. “But luckily, my finals this year are toward the end of the finals weeks so I’m able to have plenty of time to get my stuff done.”

The poll also asked students when they plan to study, and 80 percent of students said that they are following Sanchez’s study plan –study before the reading day but after Thanksgiving. Another 15 percent of students said that they will study only on the one reading day.

During fall 2012, the Faculty Senate voted to approve the changes to the academic calendar that made fall break two days instead of one and Thanksgiving break a week. The committee sent a survey to full-time faculty who teach undergraduate courses to gauge their thoughts about changing the fall calendar and final exam schedule, according to the proposal created in November 2012.

About 61 percent agreed or strongly agreed with the proposed shortening of the final exam schedule. Final exams begin on Thursday next week and end December 18.

Though there is only one reading day, students have a weekend between the five days of exams.

Faculty like Jennifer Durocher, a clinical assistant professor of psychology, have had to change their plans as well. Durocher usually assigns students a take-home written exam during reading days. Because the reading day period is shorter, she pushed back the date of the exam to give students more time to work on the test, but as a result, leaving her with fewer days to grade.

“It was a balance between giving my students enough time to actually complete an exam in a meaningful way and me enough time to grade,” she said. “I do feel a little extra crunch time but not unnecessarily so, but it is a small enough section luckily that it won’t be super challenging.”

To retain the same number of class days as last year, the Faculty Senate ended classes two days later than the previous semester. This change causes the final exam schedule to be pushed back by five days. The winter break is then shorter – three weeks instead of a month.