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exams (rant)

Ross Koning koning at ecsuc.ctstateu.edu
Tue Mar 7 08:24:33 EST 2000

At 3:38 PM -0600 3/3/00, Monique Reed wrote:
>Ever give an exam that gives the students every opportunity to show
>what they know, that includes examples you have gone over in class,
>that covers just what the syllabus says it will, that you have you
>talked about with great skill and enthusiasm, that reinforces what
>they are doing in the lab---and they all still fail?
>We have done everything we can think of to make the material
>interesting, to have live material (botany class) and not just pickled
>or dry stuff, to back up lectures with web-based materials, to have
>lab and lecture impart non-conflicting information, to be available
>for outside-class help, and to encourage them to think, compare,
>theorize, etc.  This semester, nothing seems to have worked.
>I have just marked the biggest pile of incompletely-memorized facts,
>poorly-understood theories, fuzzy thinking, bad spelling, and
>atrocious handwriting yet.  We know we're teaching, but I have no idea
>what the students think they're doing.  It's certainly not reading the
>text or studying...
>Monique Reed
>Texas A&M

Hi Monique,

Here at ECSU, I have experienced what has seemed
like a very sudden decline in student's impressions
of what to do as a student. I have had to teach
study habits as well as botany...and many don't
appreciate being told that they have any responsibility
in the learning process. You get buckets of attitude
when you 'make' them do anything above the minimum.

Some investigation turned up some local changes
in student acceptance. In an effort to keep the
"numbers up" the admissions staff dug deeper into
the barrel of applicants. Applicants are ranked
on a 1 to 10 point scale (10 as best) on a holistic
group of criteria (not just SAT). Generally we draw
from the 5-8 group and celebrate 9-10s who choose ECSU.
This year we have been accepting 1-4s...OUCH! No
wonder they seem like this...they barely made it
through high school.

I don't know if A&M is doing anything like this, but
state legislatures have a lot of pressure on state
schools here to "keep the numbers up."

Ross Koning                 | koning at ecsu.ctstateu.edu
Biology Department          | http://koning.ecsu.ctstateu.edu/
Eastern CT State University | phone: 860-465-5327
Willimantic, CT 06226 USA   | fax: 860-465-4479

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