The University Senate voted to remove the University of Maryland’s mandatory final exam requirement during its Tuesday meeting.

The senate passed a proposal from the academic procedures and standards committee that would remove the university-wide final exam requirement, excluding courses with department guidelines that require them. The approved proposal also states final exams must be held during finals week.

The policy revision now requires the approval of university president Darryll Pines. The proposal did not state when the policy would go into effect if approved. The timeline for Pines approving the revision and the policy taking effect is uncertain, according to a senate official.

If a course has a final exam, all work due in the last week of classes can’t be worth more than 10 percent of students’ grades, Amy Karlsson, the chair of the academic procedures and standards committee, told the senate. If no final exam is given, alternative assignments worth more than 10 percent of students’ grades may be due during the last week of classes or during finals week if they are assigned earlier in the semester, according to the proposal.

These changes are aimed at addressing student concerns about unreasonable workloads at the end of semesters, Karlsson, an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, said during the meeting. The new policy will also provide faculty with the flexibility to determine whether to assign a final exam or an alternative assessment, she told the senate.

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Mansoor Moaddel, a senator representing tenured faculty in the behavioral and social sciences college, said he approved of the changes in the policy revision.

“That flexibility should be up to the faculty because there are considerable variation in the contents, method and philosophy of teaching across diverse programs and departments,” Moaddel said.

The committee started reviewing the final exam policy after a September 2021 senate proposal stated that the current policy’s reliance on mandatory final exams limited assessment methods and restricted instructor’s autonomy, according to Karlsson.

In September 2023, the committee presented its findings to the senate and heard concerns from senators about unclear wording in the originally proposed policy revision, The Diamondback previously reported.

A presentation and poll of senators at a November 2023 senate meeting gathered more feedback about the policy. During the meeting, senators were split on whether 10 percent was a reasonable limit for the percentage value of work due during the last week of classes.

After further discussion, the committee decided projects assigned by the end of the ninth week of classes could be worth more than the 10 percent limit if the class doesn’t have a final exam. The committee decided on the ninth week by factoring in the end of the period where students can drop classes, Karlsson said.

“This deadline would allow students to make an educated decision about the entirety of the expected workload at the end of the semester,” she said.

The committee reviewed the policies of similar universities and sought feedback from a group of undergraduate students of various years and majors. It was clear from the meetings that students often have a heavy burden of work between the last week of classes and the end of the final exam period, Karlsson said.

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Library and information science graduate student Laura DeMarco expressed support for removing the mandatory final exam requirement during Tuesday’s senate meeting.

As a former undergraduate student at this university, DeMarco said she’s had multiple professors give final exams that were “kind of pointless” and didn’t reflect how well students understood and retained the class content.

DeMarco said she hopes the change in policy will not negatively impact people with accommodations for exams and assessments.

“I do greatly appreciate the emphasis on student mental health,” she said. “I want to be sure that the people who need those accommodations have adequate say because this policy will affect those people directly in multiple ways besides the traditional.”

The committee did not specifically meet with students with disabilities and accommodations about the proposed changes, Karlsson said. But she expects this university will work to ensure the policy is implemented in a way that works for each individual student.

This story has been updated.