Video Feature: The Argument For Project-Based Finals

La Salle prides itself for its ambitious strides in forward-thinking education, so can we find a solution to outdated and ineffective final exams? Mr. Krantz’s AP English III class may hold the answer.

Video Feature: The Argument For Project-Based Finals

Shak Saidjanov, Editor

When the week before finals is referred to by students and staff alike as “dead week,” we have a problem.

Dead week is notoriously one of the most stressful times of the year both on campuses nationwide and at La Salle, and considering La Salle is already packed year round with college preparatory curriculum, it makes dead week nearly unbearable for the common student. Usually, dead week means six or seven classes of ruthless studying of all content learned over the entire semester, with no hope of retakes or consolation for missteps.

And then comes finals week itself. Long, tedious Scantrons and tricky multiple choice questions, a packet’s worth of ruthless math or science problems, or even an in-class essay is not uncommon.

Students ask for help from teachers, spend long nights completing massive test prep packets for diminutive extra (or “extended”) credit points, and memorize, rather than truly learn, the content in hopes it will stick for another week. Students literally cry. 

But there is a solution: Project-based finals.

Students rejoice when they learn that a teacher is planning to assign a project in favor of an in-class exam. Projects are a true, creative, and intellectual form of test that not only utilizes all content from the semester, but does so in a way that makes a student feel individualistic and empowered. Projects are an opportunity to apply knowledge in an intuitive and creative way. Students most often take pride and initiative in their work when asked to complete a project.

“Dead week” then becomes a sensible week of thinking and preparing something that is inherently your own work. Finals day is purged of dread and becomes a showcase of your personal talent, your knowledge, your research, or even an opportunity to develop your presentation skills (skills we will most certainly need in college and in the workplace).  

Some teachers have begun to adapt this, or at least in part. And thanks to Mr. Krantz’s AP English III class, we have video proof of its effectiveness. 

After learning about argument, creative writing, rhetorical techniques, and more, in replacement of a written exam or in-class essay for semester one of the year, AP English III students are asked to find a topic they love, find something worth arguing over in that topic, and deliver a rhetorical speech in hopes of changing the minds of students; changing minds could mean righting a misconception, changing an opposing viewpoint, or simply bringing to light a neglected or misunderstood subject.

This year, topics from students included the government shutdown, dogs, Las Vegas, healthcare costs, immigration, endangered species, beauty and intellect, the meaning of life, and even an argument for project based finals. Below are some of the highlights.

(Featured: Tim Arifdjanov, Jaden Lee, Sam Stockett, Owen Reynolds, Ben Robinson, Isabella Griffiths. All are juniors.)