The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

The student news site of Pleasant Valley High School

Spartan Shield

Project based learning overtakes finals as culminating experience for seniors

+Senior+Jaydon+Kachapilly+stresses+as+he+works+on+his+final+physics+project.
Spencer Johnson
Senior Jaydon Kachapilly stresses as he works on his final physics project.

With less than a week until seniors graduate, many classes have shifted their focus towards finals week, although many teachers have undertaken a project based format as opposed to the traditional summative test.

First semester finals come with an unorthodox schedule, allowing for 90 minute class periods as opposed to the conventional 45 minutes. Pleasant Valley is able to do this because all students are on the same block schedule for the duration of these testing days.

But seniors’ last day is May 21, and the remaining three grades are in school through June 6, so administration is unable to adjust the schedule to allow for longer testing periods during senior finals.

Senior Cole Halupnik acknowledges the change a shortened semester brings for students. “The shortened semester makes projects a lot easier. I think teachers realize that we are seniors and would rather not stress about a test on our last few days,” he shared.

This format can also be frustrating for students, as they are not always given class time to work. Oftentimes teachers continue to pile on material, and students are expected to simultaneously incorporate it into their final project. 

Senior Caden Lastine relates to this difficulty. “It can be challenging because it requires you to know the material right away. I think most students are used to having review days prior to tests and projects don’t allow for that time to stop and ask questions,” he explained.

The idea of a summative semester test has long been in question because students often fail to retain important concepts and real world application of the material. Replacing the standard final often comes with a focus on one particular component of the class, forcing students to research and better understand about a topic rather than entering a test blindly. 

Halupnick believes there are benefits to be received from taking semester finals. “I don’t think projects will ever fully replace tests because they don’t always fully display a student’s knowledge,” he said.

Teachers do their best to work around the provided schedule to accommodate for the traditional final format. While it has commonly resulted in project-based learning, splitting students’ focus from the task at hand and continuing to learn the required material, more students and staff are understanding the benefits individual learning brings.

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Spencer Johnson
Spencer Johnson, Sports Editor, Student Life Editor
Spencer Johnson is a senior at Pleasant Valley High School and serves as the Sports and Student Life Editor for the Spartan Shield. He enjoys math and economics classes, and plans on majoring in Business Economics next fall at Iowa State University. Spencer plays trumpet for both PVHS and his Church, St. John Vianney. In his free time, he loves watching sports, movies and hanging out with his friends. Spencer is also an Eagle Scout who enjoys camping and being outdoors. He is very excited to finish out his senior year and write with the journalism team!

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