July 20th, 2021
Dear Bobcat Parents and Families,I trust that you are having a wonderful and relaxing summer. We are in full-swing preparing for Fall 2021, and while we still have five weeks before we start the semester, I wanted you to see this important email from the Provost's office below. Your student received this email yesterday, and I wanted to make sure you also had the chance to learn about the important start and ending dates for the upcoming semester.
I'll be sending additional updates as we close in on the start of the academic year.
Matthew R. Caires, Dean of Students
Updates to the Final Week schedule for Academic Year 2021-22
As we look forward to the start of fall semester on Aug. 25, I'm pleased to announce that Final Week for fall and spring semester will more closely resemble a pre-pandemic end of the semester. As described in this message, the schedule for Final Week will be fine-tuned based on lessons learned during the previous academic year 20-21 (AY20-21) and feedback we received from students, faculty and department heads.
Final Week Schedule
The last day of regularly scheduled classes for fall semester 2021 will be Friday, Dec. 10. Final Week will be Dec. 13-16 and will consist of a modified two-hour block schedule, which can be found at: https://www.montana.edu/registrar/Schedules.html
This block schedule allows 110-minute periods for summative assessment, spreads final meeting periods for students over the week to minimize schedule conflicts and back-to-back exams, and allows for final group meeting periods for high-enrollment, multi-section courses. The updated schedule coincides more closely with the regular class schedule to reduce impacts to students who work or have childcare needs. Posting the Final Week schedule prior to the start of the semester should help minimize scheduling conflicts. Fall and spring semesters will have similar Final Week scenarios.
Montana State University employed an altered final week schedule in AY20-21 because of social distancing requirements and other COVID related restrictions. Faculty responded with creative adaptations. Additionally, the MSU Center for Faculty Excellence's resources and workshops on best practices inspired reflection and discussions about improvements to assessing student learning.
In addition to invoking new approaches for evaluating student learning, we heard from many of you that:
Based on your feedback, a working group was formed to investigate opportunities for improvement. The working group recommended a return to the previous model consisting of 110-minute time blocks for each course section and to schedule meeting times over a 4-day-long Final Week, rather than the previous 5-day schedule.
The long-standing university final exam policies still apply for Final Week, including:
The University expects all instructors to meet with their classes during Final Week according to the published schedule. This Final Week time is counted in our overall instructional requirements. How to best use that time is the instructor's prerogative; however, cancelling or not meeting class is a violation of University policy and has broader implications with accreditation and federal requirements.
We listened to your suggestions and ideas for improving the schedule of the last week of classes and these changes to Final Week are a result of that feedback. We trust that the return of Final Week and the extended meeting times will support your efforts in creating high-quality learning opportunities for all our students.
I appreciate our opportunities to collaborate on better ways of doing our work in a spirit of continuous improvement. Take care and see you in August!
Dr. Robert Mokwa | Executive Vice President and Provost
Montana State University