Dead Week

May 052004
Authors: Christiana Nelson

For Veronica Canchucaja, the week prior to final exams is

anything but dead.

“I’ve had a couple of quizzes, a couple of tests and pretty much

all-new info in my classes,” said Canchucaja, a senior biology


While some universities regulate the amount of new information

professors may present to students and relax student-attendance

policies for the week before finals, CSU does not.

“I think that the week before finals should be review,”

Canchucaja said. “There is no way to learn new material plus a

whole semester worth of material in a few days before finals.”

CSU’s undergraduate catalog states that “no class examination

constituting more than 10 percent of the final course grade may be

given in undergraduate courses during the week preceding the final

examination period of the semester.”

Scott Simpson, a speech communication lecturer, has been

introducing new material relevant to previous course information in

his classes during the last week of classes and expects his

students to rise to the occasion.

“I know other schools, some upper-tier schools, use dead week

and it works for them, but I think whatever boundaries you set-up,

students will go to those boundaries,” he said.

Smith said he believes it is beneficial to make the last day of

class a review session, but he also said many students do not

attend optional reviews, which traditional dead weeks encourage in

place of class time.

“My fear with dead week is that students would see it as a free

week to do whatever – head to the mountains, visit family, party –

rather than take it as a time to study for exams,” Smith said.

Cecily Miller, a junior political science major, agreed that

students would manipulate of an official dead week.

“The way students are I think that some would be concerned about

grades and attend reviews, but I think a lot of students would blow

it off and just think they’ll review at home,” Miller said.

With these fears in mind, many universities have adopted a

mainstream approach to the week before final examinations.

Howard Shapiro, vice provost for undergraduate programs at Iowa

State University, said ISU’s official dead-week policies were

negotiated to meet student and faculty desires.

“We had one for many years informally. Students requested a

reading period, where they would have no classes before exams, but

that was rejected. We didn’t want to reduce to class time, so we

compromised,” Shapiro said.

ISU’s dead-week guidelines encourage faculty to give students

time to prepare for their final examinations by not allowing

professors to assign, modify or have major assignments due during

the week prior to finals.

“We can’t really tell teachers what to do, that’s true, but they

are always subject to review if they are unreasonable,” Shapiro


Pat Byrne, an associate professor of soil and crop sciences at

CSU, said he believes a schedule for the final week of classes

should depend on the individual course.

“I only teach one graduate-level course and it has four students

and I assume that my students are interested in the topic,” Byrne

said. “I am trying to provide full classes and then we have one day

of student presentations and they have a take-home final.”

While many CSU professors treat the week prior to final exams as

a regular week of school, Brandon Beam, a senior computer

information systems major, said his last week of classes has been

very relaxed.

“It seems like we’re closing things up,” Beam said. “It is

really light for me this week as far as a workload and my teachers

are not introducing anything new.”

Regardless of CSU policy, Season Rohlman, a senior microbiology

and anthropology major, said that while dead week would be a

welcome addition, the results of finals are up to individual


“It all depends on the person,” Rohlman said. “People who would

use dead week to party, the people who would waste it, are the same

people that would not study for finals anyway.”

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