What’s the Point of Dead Week?

picture-1-dead-weekFor the full week before finals, students hurry to cram in the last few minutes of studying for exams before leaving for the semester. This week, better known as Dead Week, is probably one of the most intense week for students and teachers alike. Designed to give students a chance to breathe and focus on their finals while slowly unwinding from the stresses of the semester by spending time with friends and eating some food prepared by the Student Association, Dead Week is something that students, for the most part, look forward to.  

“I look forward to the study guides that some teachers give me for my classes,” says Heidi Dart, senior communication major. “It helps me judge how hard the finals will be and prioritize accordingly.” 

Emily Hernandez, sophomore biology major, says, “I like the fact that S.A. does things for the students and helps them relax before their finals.”

Dead Week was activated at Southwestern Adventist University in 2013 when students expressed their desire to Student Senate to implement a week where no major assignments were due so they could focus on studying for finals. It had been used years before, but had fallen into disuse. To bring it back, Student Senate drew up a proposal to present to the staff with guidelines. This is what Dead Week was intended to look like:

  • Papers, essays, or projects comprising a significant portion of the final grade should not be due during Dead Week. All major assignments should be due before this time.
  • All tests other than final exams should be given before Dead Week begins. No mandatory final exams should be given during Dead Week, with the exception of evening classes.
  • Take-home final exams should not be due before the final exam time scheduled for that class.
  • Quizzes over material comprising more than the amount normally introduced during one week of class should not be given.
  • Regularly held meetings (academic, social, or club-related) should not be held during this week, nor should special events (including field trips outside of class time, and recitals). This excludes assembly.

Dead Week is not completely dead in the sense that it excuses students from attending classes and gives them time to work on late work, but it allows them to prepare for their finals without stressing about another major assignment that is due right before exams.  

But do students understand the purpose of Dead Week? Hernandez says, “I think that dead week was meant to be a time for classes to be cancelled and for students to study for their finals.”

“It’s a time to relax, study, get ready for finals and hang out with my friends,” Dart says.

Elizabeth Bowser, assistant professor of history and a representative of the student senate when the current Dead Week was proposed, explains how it became official.

“Dead Week was originally designed to clear time to study for finals since students complained they didn’t have enough time,” she says. “It has somewhat kept its original purpose. I believe that if more proactive action was taken to give Dead Week a clear structure, there would be less confusion among students and professors alike. The structure needs to be implemented across the board.”

When asked if she thought Dead Week has helped students prepare for finals she says, “I think that Dead Week does help with some students, but some don’t bother. And some students are in classes with professors who don’t observe Dead Week, so it’s hard to say if there is a real difference.”picture-4-dead-week

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