By CATHERINE RHA
According to a study conducted by students in AP Statistics, students overwhelmingly prefer having finals before winter break. Although the date of finals next year will not be confirmed until near the end of spring break, many currently anticipate that finals will be held before winter break next year as well.
The report accounted for several factors such as grade level and number of finals, as well as recorded stress levels, which were compared to reported stress levels in prior years.
According to the study, over 80% of students preferred having finals before winter break, and reported stress levels were similar to those of last year’s among 10th-12th graders, with 1/3rd of students reporting Moderate (3 on a scale of 0-5) levels of stress and 42-52% of students reporting a High and Very High levels of stress (4-5).
Students who had more finals did report more stress than those with less; however, even those who reported having felt the highest level of stress preferred having finals before winter break by 67.6%.
Although some students expressed concern about the effects of the multiple extracurricular events that coincided with finals week not considered in the survey, including the spring musical auditions, the winter orchestra concert, winter band concert, the winter choir concert, and sports matches, many still endorsed having finals after break.
“We had time to prepare for a month, and it was actually kind of nice not spending the last day before finals studying for the whole day and doing something besides that, so it was kind of relaxing in that sense,” said sophomore Justin Kim, who performed at the winter choir concert as part of the UHS Choir. “I do think overall it was better having finals before winter break.”
Dr. Astor had originally approached AP Statistics teacher Ms. Hsieh with the idea of having her students collect data on student opinions of having finals before winter break early in the fall.
“So for the finals exam, so we did it this first time working under this assumption that it would provide a healthy, meaningful break for students. So it was all predicated on that,” said Principal Dr. Astor. “And there was enough reasonableness to think that it could work, and Northwood had done it and had some good feedback, so these surveys were like, ‘let’s confirm that it’s actually working or not,’ because it takes some work from the teachers. There’s some complexities that it creates, and teachers were like ‘we want to have some confirmation and validation that it actually does help students’.”
30 students proposed questions for the survey in December, with Ms. Hsieh vetting them for quality, and then the survey itself was sent out to students the week after finals. Students analyzed the data collected and presented it at the staff meeting on the morning of Wednesday, March 13.
“We did the survey during homeroom the week the students came back, and the [AP Statistics] students worked on [the report]… all during office hours, break, lunch, during their own time,” said Ms. Hsieh. “It was done completely outside of class, and it took about three weeks to get the full thing completed… It was a lot of work, but we were really happy and proud of the report that we ended up with and submitted, and we found it was a really cool and unique experience.”
Many of the students who partook in making the survey also felt that it was especially meaningful to be able to use the information that they learned in class and apply it to real-world problems that mattered to themselves and their fellow students.
“It was really nice to get hands-on experience about survey-making, because when Ms. Hsieh gave us this opportunity it had associated with the unit in class about taking surveys and how to write them,” said senior Grace Shu, who participated in making the survey, analyzing data, and presenting information.
While Northwood also implemented finals before break for the first time, Portola, Woodbridge, and Irvine had their finals afterwards as per usual. According to the Howler, Northwood’s school newspaper, many Northwood students felt similarly to Uni students in that they overall preferred the new finals scheduling but felt that teachers were unprepared for it and had to scramble to get things done.
In anticipation of making the decision, the administration distributed a survey to teachers about their experience administering finals before break on March 13th, and will continue to analyze the remaining data through March. The date of winter finals will be determined by the end of spring break.