I finished a non-illustrious high school career and like most of my friends moved on to college. It was the thing to do… and there was Vietnam looming if you didn’t!
I wasn’t a very good high school student. My grades were well below the mid-point of my graduating class. Standardized tests were my saving grace – getting me a (never used) New York State Regents Scholarship and admittance to a very competitive New York City public college.
I decided instead on Emerson College in Boston’s Back Bay. I wanted to be a disk jockey, and mass communications was a course of study available at Emerson.
College was much like high school, except they didn’t check attendance or homework. As disorganized and unmotivated as I was, I was gone in three semesters. I like to call it the accelerated dismissal program, but I guess these things only get funny after 30 or more years.
I remember being upset while at Emerson, especially when I felt the curriculum wasn’t really doing what it purported to do. Granted, with my admitted lack of educational excellence, I’m not the one to talk.
I mention this because now, as a very motivated student at Mississippi State, I sometimes notice the same thing. It is most manifested in the quizzes and tests when the instructor uses questions that trick rather than test.
I have had questions with double negatives – so you have to find the answer and then calculate whether the question is actually asking for the true or false version of the answer.
On another test, many of the multiple choice answers were really two questions. So, get one out of two right – no credit.
A few nights ago I took a test which sought to define a term in a very unconventional way. It was the same as asking how much 100¢ is in New York… and then giving $1, plus the equivalent in Euros and Pounds. The correct answer on the quiz was: All of the above.
Maybe it is the answer, but it’s a stretch.
As is so often the case, we lose sight of what we’re doing. Many times, the process rather than the result gets the focus. That’s often the rub against academic training for practical real world skills.
Please test me – make the test difficult if you want – but test me on the real knowledge contained in the course which advances my knowledge.