• exams

    Posted on April 20th, 2012 kr No comments

    So, it seems to be that time of the semester again; the time when everything is due and everyone seems so busy.  As a now well-seasoned graduate student I’ m accustomed to the lengthy papers being due at the end of each semester in the course I am taking and I have always been the type to schedule and finish these hefty projects earlier rather than later.  This semester is a tad bit different.  While I do have one research paper for a course, I also have an in-class final that will consist of both multiple choice and short answer questions.  This seems odd to me.  Do I mind? Not really. It’s a bit more stressful than a paper, but I plan to take my prelim exams next Spring so a tiny little multiple choice test doesn’t really seem like any big threat.  But, it does bother me for some reason.  And, after thinking about it, the reason it does is very relevent to our GEDI course. 

    A multiple choice tests seems, in essense, to be trying to figure out what we don’t know. What details we may have missed while reading our course materials.  Because the questions are short you can’t very well get at complex ideas or comprehensive understanding very well.  Short answer, that’s a little better, at least there you can tell what you do know and synthesize what you do understand. 

    In developing a course I have been going back and forth on the idea of using multiple choice exams.  I’ve decided they seem like a good tool for checking if students have read the material at all, using very topical questions.  But, after having been reminded through my own agitation why multiple choice tests are suboptimal, I will not be using them as a primary source of student evaluation.  Maybe it’s good that I was given this reminder. I think my class teaching experience and students’ experiences will benefit because of it.

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