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Faculty Approves Changes to Reading and Examination Periods

By Madeline R. Conway, Crimson Staff Writer

UPDATED: May 9, 2013, at 11:22 p.m.

A proposal that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences approved at their monthly meeting on Tuesday will restructure reading and exam periods starting in the fall of 2014. It outlines the kind of assignments that may be assigned or due throughout Reading Period, which will be shortened from eight days to six or seven.

The proposal, which the faculty approved unanimously, stipulates that courses may not assign new material during Reading Period, though “short, regular assignments” dealing with material from the last two weeks of classes may be due during the first three days. These short assignments include problem sets and response papers.

Culminating assignments such as projects, take-home exams, final papers, and presentations will be due “no earlier than the fourth day of Reading Period” but must be due “on or before the day of each course’s assigned Examination Group.” Exam period will also be renamed Final Examination and Project Period.

Seated exams “of whatever duration ... or scope” must also be given during the course’s assigned exam slot. Except for certain intensive language courses, the proposal prohibits “regular instruction” during Reading Period, although courses may hold review sessions and sections, as well as make-up classes.

Jen Q. Y. Zhu ’14, Vice President of the Undergraduate Council, voiced approval for the proposal.

“It’s definitely good that it was passed,” Zhu said. “I know students have expressed to us in the past how stressful it is to have... all your papers due the same day at the end of Reading Period.... This allows a little more flexibility, and a little more time to actually use Reading Period to be preparing for a lot of the final assignments or final exams or projects or papers, and so on.”

Zhu attended Committee on Undergraduate Education meetings throughout the semester, where faculty, administrators, and students discussed the proposal. She also praised Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris for seeking input from both the UC and faculty on the proposal.

Harris invited UC representatives to attend a faculty town hall meeting about the proposal on April 16, according to Zhu. During the meeting, she said, faculty raised concerns about, among other things, how the proposed change would affect problem sets.

Harris wrote in an email that the approved proposal “should help spread out due dates, and give students time to do their work.” He added that the proposal will make it unlikely that students have three or four papers or projects due on the same day, “while still holding students responsible for managing their time well.” He said the proposal, originally developed by the CUE, was “significantly revised,” both after meeting with the UC and after the town hall meeting. The original language of the proposal, for example, did not designate the first three days of Reading Period for short assignment due dates.

—Nicholas P. Fandos contributed to the reporting of this story.

—Staff Writer Madeline R. Conway can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MadelineRConway.

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