Friday, February 14, 2014

They may be trying to "train" me

So. I gave a first exam in one of my classes today.

As this is allegedly an 'advanced' class, I followed good pedagogy and made the test mostly essay.

Mistake, ricki. Big big mistake.

Essay tests take a LONG time to grade, and sometimes (though not this year) you get that person with the handwriting like a drunken spider, and you're squinting at the page, cursing them, as you can feel the rods and cones dying, and wonder if you'll be sitting on a street corner some day with a tin cup, saying, "It was....EXAM POISONING!!!"

But this semester, I'm noting a disturbing trend. When a student can't answer a question, rather than doing what they can or even just leaving it blank, instead they answer a totally different question. Like, the question they'd like to see there. (Or, perhaps: the question that WAS there on last semester's exam. Yeah, that's why I write different ones each time).

I've had to use my "This does not answer the question asked!" angry grading notation more this go-round than ever before.

I don't know if (a) this is an unusually gormless group, (b) they didn't study hard enough (or had another big exam this week, or heard I was a pushover on tests, which is false) or (c) this is a trend.

If it's a trend, I'm really unhappy. My essay questions are NOT that devious. They are over topics that were both discussed in class and that are in the textbook. I also hand out a big long list of "topics you will want to study" (maybe I need to rephrase that as "topics you NEED to study"). My review sheet is NOT a joke, it's not a suggestion only, at least if you want a good grade.

(Cue me muttering that back when I was in college, we didn't even GET review sheets. Our NOTES were our review sheets. And we had to walk to school in 18" of snow, uphill both ways.)

But yeah. I don't get the "I'm going off on a tangent that has nothing to do with the topic at hand just because I don't know the answer and that makes me uncomfortable." Do they think I just look for filled in answer blanks without reading?

There are gonna be a lot of unhappy students come Monday. I hope that unhappiness serves as a goad to work harder, at least to some.

(Standard disclaimer: yes, I did have a few people earn As. So my exam was not impossible.)

But I wonder if they're trying to make me throw up my hands and go "Awww, screw it. All multiple-choice next time" because those are hella easier to grade.

1 comment:

Dave E. said...

"It was....EXAM POISONING!!!" dad would so get that. I'll have to ask him, but that might be a reason why he focused more on papers, mandatory typed of course, than essay tests.