Would you rather?

With finals right around the corner, do you prefer taking a big final in say a science or math class, or is the longer, but more spaced out, process of our final remediation/eportfolio projects preferable?

Neither, and that’s the end of this blog. In all seriousness, here’s my take on the pros/cons of each.

Quantitive final

Pros:

  • Higher degree of closure and feeling “done” with it. When you’ve read all the textbook chapters, done all the readings, and finished all the practice problems, its very easy to feel closure with the study process.
  • The black/white nature of practice problems for most quantitive classes (like finance) can make studying pretty rewarding and you’re able to get immediate feedback. If you take a multiple choice practice exam, you either get things right or wrong. I think in this sense it’s easier to monitor your progress in comparison to a project that is more rubric-based.

Cons:

  • The closure of reviewing all possible study materials is pretty difficult when your professor provides you with 50,000 practice problems for each chapter.
  • Because you can only get practice problems right or wrong, if you’re not getting them right, well, you’re getting them wrong (duh). And this can be really demoralizing when you do 9 out of 10 things right and then get a problem wrong. So the black/white nature of problems being wrong or right can sometimes make you feel like you know less than you do.

Qualitative project

Pros:

  • The higher degree of creative freedom often makes it easier to be more involved in the project. In this sense you can manipulate the content to a certain degree unless the project gives you a narrow scope.
  • You can take more risks, and usually this leads to a greater reward in terms of your satisfaction with the finished product. For the remediation project I felt completely uncomfortable using a green screen, but now I’m pretty proud of myself that I got it to work.

Cons:

  • It’s often to hard to feel any degree of closure because there will always be things we want to fix about big projects. About 12 hours after submitting my remediation project I realized that there were things I would go back and change (re-recording the footage with more enthusiasm and bleeping out swear words).
  • It’s really hard to plan for these projects because the time they take is pretty unpredictable. I had no idea how long it would take me to edit 17 minutes of footage in iMovie for my remediation project. It actually took me about 4 hours longer than I anticipated, whereas the script writing actually took much less time than I anticipated. In contrast, when I’m studying for a big final, I can usually estimate pretty well how long it’s going to take to read X number of pages.

I think that for me, I personally prefer exams, except in cases when I’m passionate about the project I’m putting together. For example, I have much preferred studying for my finance exam than I have working on my marketing project. That’s just because my marketing project involves analyzing Walgreen’s marketing strategy, and frankly I don’t care about Walgreen’s marketing strategy. At all. Whereas, with a project like the Remediation project that I designed myself, it’s much easier for me to enjoy the work because I’m (presumably) passionate about the topic or medium that I chose. So in a sentence, I usually prefer exams, except when projects are discussing things I care about (not related to drug store advertisements).

2 thoughts to “Would you rather?”

  1. Really great “pro/con” breakdown on the matter. I definitely agree with your point about liking exams better because once they’re done, they’re just done. It can definitely be demoralizing when you’re taking practice tests and nothing seems to be working, especially after studying for hours and hours. I think the worst think about long projects or essays is the thing you mentioned about the fact that there is always something that can be improved. Either way, whatever finals you have, best of luck!

  2. Really interesting post – there’s definitely advantages and disadvantages for each. For me personally, I actually prefer the more long-term project with more freedom – I feel I learn better this way. For exams, I have a really good memory so I’m able to study a lot for a couple days before and get a good grade. But, I don’t always necessarily retain that information well long-term. With more drawn out projects and papers, I feel I’m really able to learn/master the material I’m working on, which I find more valuable. I think it’s different for everyone though, depending on particular interests and skill-sets.

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