Regurgitation on Finals

2 May

When I finally get myself a faculty position somewhere, I’m going to set myself a policy to assume that every exam, homework, project, etc. that I will assign will make it on to the Internet shortly after it is graded, and hopefully not before.

I’ve had two final exams this semester and the difference between them could not have been more striking.  The first final was done in 25 minutes.  It was a regurgitation of material that the professor had presented during the semester.  If we had picked the right material to memorize, perfect!  If we hadn’t, we were screwed.  I lucked out and understood the concept that was behind 2/3 of the points on the test.  I hope my classmates were as lucky.

The second exam was a take-home in which we were honor-bound to not look for materials outside the textbook, or to consult each other.  I was told that this was just not doable in a graduate class, because students will cheat.  I do not understand that philosophy.  If you are that worried about your students cheating, aren’t you teaching incorrectly?  Shouldn’t you be designing better exams?  Exams are hard to create, I understand, but it seems to be a better path than to just throw your hands up in the air and give up in frustration.

I’m sure my peers will find this post at some point in the future and rub it in my face when I complain about students.

I wonder how much of this is due to presence.  A professor who presents themselves as an intimidating, knowledgeable figure who will not tolerate that kind of behavior will not get as much of it as someone who is seen by the students as not caring.

2 out of 3 classes are now finished.  And then my first year at IU will be completed.

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