Supporting Students’ Finals Prep

By Marjorie Coffey, Asst. Director, Academic Success Center & Writing Center (ASC &WC)

Waldo Hall at OSU

Last spring, I shared ways instructors could encourage and support students as they finished up their first term of remote learning. The most recent OSU Remote Learning Experience Student Survey tells us that remote learning still presents significant challenges for students, even if the remote experience might feel more routine. For many students, remote learning is more time-consuming, more isolating, and subject to technological difficulties. We’ve heard this echoed in our work with students at the ASC & WC.

The strategies I shared in spring are still relevant today. Creating opportunities for connection, communicating early about finals, and sharing encouragement and resources can help students understand expectations around finals and connect with resources to support their success.

I’d like to expand on these and share a few additional strategies you can use to support students as they finish fall term.

Encourage Planning Ahead

The term flies by after the break. Making space for advance planning can help students start week 10 with a clear path forward. Here are a few ways support planning:

  • Collaborative Lerning Activities for Remote Study GroupsShare the ASC’s Finals Survival Guide (fillable PDF) and give students time in class to plan backwards from the date of the final.
  • Schedule a Writing Center virtual tour for your remote class session, then give students 5 minutes after the presentation to schedule their writing consultation.
  • Invite students to connect during office hours or set up new office hour times for students to ask questions specifically about the final or end of term.
  • Facilitate process for students forming remote study groups. Many students value study groups but are finding set-up challenging. Opening a Canvas discussion board or chat where students can opt into groups can make the process easier. You could also share collaborative learning activities (above) students could engage in when they meet.

Create Flexibility

Being flexible with finals and due dates give students space to complete work at a time that works for them and their environment after the break. Here are a few ways flexibility could show up:

  • If you have a timed final, give students a time range during which they can complete the final (e.g., anytime Monday through Thursday of finals week).
  • Make the final optional if students have demonstrated knowledge corresponding with learning outcomes throughout the term. Students could choose between keeping the current grade or taking the final and having that score factored into the final grade.
  • Create options for the final, so students can choose how to demonstrate knowledge (e.g., project, multiple choice, written or video essay). Need ideas? Check out CTL Sparkshops and Tuesday Teaching + Tech Talks or request a consultation to identify assessment possibilities.

Address Technology Concerns

Even with the best of plans, technology issues are a reality of remote learning. Discussing technology explicitly before finals can help students prepare. Here are a few ways to engage in that conversation:

  • Answer “What if…?” questions in advance like “What if my internet goes out during the final,” or “What should I do if I’m having trouble uploading an assignment?”
  • Share what technology is needed for the final, explain how students can access technical support, and highlight different ways to connect (e.g., phone, email, help ticket).
  • Provide multiple ways for students to contact you (e.g., email, Canvas message, chat, discussion board, etc.) if a technology issue arises.

Connect Students with ASC & WC Resources

We also invite you to keep Academic Success Center & Writing Center resources in mind as you encourage students to plan ahead. Here are a few resources you could share:

  • Strategist Live ChatASC Workshop series – Invite students to register for 50-minute workshops on topics like Test Prep & the Science of Learning; Time Management Finals Edition; and Concentration, Distraction, & Effective Study Sessions.
  • DAM Good Self-Care Packet – Remind students of the importance of their well-being as they finish up the term.
  • Live Chat with a Strategist the ASC website – Encourage students to talk through their finals plan and study strategies with a Strategist.

Thank you for being a source of support and compassion for students as they finish up the term! If you’d like to connect about additional resources for your course or for individual students, please feel free to contact the ASC ( We’re always happy to hear from you!

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