I have always been very bad at memorizing things, especially equations. However, most of the classes during my undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering required me to memorize numbers and lots of equations. I still remember the day, when I went home feeling completely devastated after doing terribly bad in my Hydraulics exam. I wasn’t sad because I didn’t know how to solve the problems, in fact I knew the solution to each and every problem very well. However, at that moment, I couldn’t remember some of the equations associated with solving those problems and hence, I couldn’t write the final answer in numbers. I knew I wasn’t going to get good grades although I wrote the step by step procedure to solve the problems because the examiners only cared about the final answer. Finally, the results came out and I got a very poor score which was expected.
This is probably the story for many people like me who have a hard time memorizing equations and thus have failed to get good grades in exams. Our education systems are built in such a way where students are graded and ranked based on their ability to “memorize” things. An example of this is the multiple-choice exams where the students are solely graded based on the number of correct answer choices in the Scranton sheets. This in no way appreciates any of the efforts that the students put on trying to solve the problem. Even if you did everything correctly but messed up while pressing some numbers on the calculator in the final step, you will probably be put in the same category as someone who had absolutely no clue about how to solve the problem.
I think there are issues with both the examining and the grading system which in many ways forces students to “rote learn” and the distinction between a good and a poor student is made based on their grades. There has to be definitely a better methodology for teaching and grading where mindful learning is encouraged and the efforts of the students in solving the problem is appreciated.