Sophomore Greg Liniski has four midterms this semester. He works part-time as a server in Center City and worries he might not make the grade, due to his job interfering with study time.
“I work at least 20 hours a week,” the political science major said. “When am I going to have time to study and prepare for all four of my midterms?”
Liniski may be wondering if everyone is as stressed about midterms as he is, but since there’s no set policy that requires professors to give midterms – according to the policies and procedures from the Office of the Provost – a lucky few may escape.
At Temple, the number of professors giving midterms varies across departments, and sometimes it’s simply the luck of the draw.
Professor Katherine Henry, who teaches Representing Race and Racial Division, is one of the professors at Temple this semester that is not giving out any formal midterm exams.
“I think there are other forms of assessment better suited for those courses,” Henry said.
Instead of a formal midterm, Henry is choosing to have her students engage in other aspects of learning. She uses quiz grades, class participation and a written essay to assess students in her class. For the senior capstone, Henry will use an annotated biography of sources for the research project her students are focusing on.
History professor David Farber teaches History of America in the 1960s this semester. For his course, Farber will give out a traditional midterm this semester.
“Midterms are a good indicator [students have] mastered the material,” Farber said.
For his history class, Farber chooses to use an essay and a mixture of learning tools to test his students on their knowledge of history.
“An essay demonstrates knowledge of critical terms,” Farber said. “The discipline of writing an essay is a good skill to have later on in life”.
Junior Aleese Vassallo, a sociology major who has a number of midterms this semester, said she studies a lot, but doesn’t always see the benefit.
Senior communications major Preet Singh offered a different opinion.
“I think they’re good,” Singh said. “More of my classes have midterms, which can help my grade.”
However, the decision to have a midterm ultimately varies by course. In math and science courses, students are more likely to have midterms because of the material covered in those courses. On the other hand, classes that require different methods of learning may greater develop students’ appreciation for the material being taught.
Political science professor Debra Wood teaches State and Local Politics, and said that students vary in their learning styles and how they respond to methods of testing on a subject.
For her class, Wood gives students a unique opportunity to play to their strengths. She is giving two midterms for the fall semester. Students with a knack for writing can choose to write a book review, while others can choose a standard blue book and multiple-choice section as their method of testing.
Wood said giving out two midterms minimizes the risk or burden on students for any one test.
“The book review option rewards those who are better at writing longer themed essays,” she said. “The test option rewards those who prefer writing shorter essays.”
Liniski said midterms are not helpful for the classes he has taken.
“I’m not that good at science or economics, so I struggle in those classes,” Liniski said. “When I’m being given a standardized multiple choice midterm exam, I find that I only study what I know will be covered on the exam, and not the information that my professor would like me to learn.”
Freshman Alex Abramov will experience his first midterm this semester in his chemistry class.
“I don’t care either way,” Abramov said. “Depending on the class, taking a midterm should be optional.”
Despite different testing methods and learning styles, professors are committed to making their students grasp the material, no matter which way they teach in the classroom.
Stacy Lipson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.