A column recently ran that critiqued the University for failing to regulate “midterm season,” and implied that this lack of oversight was detrimental to students' mental health.
This column was shortsighted for several reasons. First, the column failed to acknowledge that tests have a purpose in education. Tests/exams/midterms/quizzes are intended to be tools to help students learn. Recalling information serves to evaluate how well students are learning and reinforces memory through the process of retrieval. The lack of policy to regulate the number of exams per class is good — more frequent retrieval (testing) produces better learning. For reference read: "Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning."
Also, every class at UNC is different, and each professor puts thought into the best timing for evaluations based off the nature of the material. Dates are clearly posted in syllabi as well, so students should be capable of planning accordingly.
Finally, I would refer the columnist to an editorial published recently: “Worshiping in the chapel of stress.” This article appropriately calls out the damaging culture on campus of glorifying stress. Pressure to get a job, internship, or graduate school admission give the illusion that every class, and each test within that class is the end all be all.
We need to shift the perception of “midterms” from torture methods to tools for learning. Hopefully this reframing will lessen the cloud of stress that hangs over each test and instead allow tests to serve their purpose in education.