Final Exam Essays

Final Exam Description and Samples

All students in the program take a final exam. As part of that exam, students are asked to write an outcomes-assessment essay connected to the readings, themes, and ideas discussed through the term (see "Guiding Themes, Methods, Approaches"). Instructors are encouraged to formulate their own exam questions in a way which challenges the students to think critically and creatively (see final exam samples below). Outcomes-assessment exams generally ask students to propose and discuss a thesis and support it with evidence from the readings; such exams may also ask for a close reading of a particular passage and the articulation of a theme-based thesis and supporting argument. It is expected that, in addition to the development of particular themes, students' essays will demonstrate competence in reading and writing; sophistication and accuracy in the use of literary terminology and concepts; precision and accomplishment in reasoning and interpretation; and the ability to integrate the contents of the course.

The outcomes-assessment portion of the exam must account for at least 30% of the final exam grade. In addition to the evaluation of each student's work, outcomes assessment essays are also used by the World Literature Program in the evaluation of its ability to meet its stated goals. For this reason, faculty are asked to keep such essays and eventually turn them in to the program administrators. The faculty ensure that the essay is detachable from the rest of the exam by instructing students to write it on separate sheets or blue books. Each outcomes-assessment essay is graded according to the program's established criteria and accompanied by a grading sheet (see "Grading Sheet for Outcomes-Assessment Essays"). A grading sheet is filled out by the instructor and attached to the front of each essay. After being graded by the instructors and taken into account in the calculation of students' course grades, all essays and grading sheets are kept in the instructors' files for one semester; students wishing to see their graded final exam are allowed to do so. If a student requests to have her/his exam back, a photocopy is made and kept in the instructor's files. At the end of the semester following that of the exam's administration, all essays and grading sheets are turned in to the World Literature Program. In order to preserve the anonymity of students and instructors during assessment operations, outcomes-assessment essays are not identified by student, instructor, or section; before turning in the essays to the program, instructors blot out or erase names or section identifiers appearing on the essay sheets. Once submitted to the program, assessment essays cannot be returned to instructors or students.