Back when I was a student at Harold G. Campbell Junior High School (aka JHS 218Q in Flushing, Queens) I took French. We learned using new multimedia course from ALM, often sitting in little booths with headphones. This was the early sixties mind you, multimedia was a word waiting to be invented.
My teacher was Mme. Elaine Gobstein. Mme Gobstein had the unenviable task of trying to motivate my classmates and me into learning French. I freely admit I was less easily motivated than most.
I floated through the first marking period, getting a courtesy passing grade, though I was doing failing work. I kept up the pace into the next report card, this time getting the failing grade I so rightly deserved. It was my first time failing a subject and I was crushed.
I’m not sure who initiated the conversation between Mme Gobstein and me, but we had one. She told me the only way I’d be able to pass was by participating every day and doing well on the final.
So, I did.
I had my hand up for every bit of classroom participation. I’m sure I was a pain in the ass, but I did what she asked. And, when the final came around, I got an incredible mark (considering). My mother remembers it to be in the 90s. I think it was in the high 80s. It makes no difference now, over 40 years later, but when my report card came… I had flunked.
As strange as it may seem, my mother and I have talked about this more than once over the past few years. She says in today’s environment she would have gone to school and pleaded my case. Back then, you accepted the teacher’s decision and my 55 stood… and is probably buried somewhere in the NYC Board of Education archives on a faded Delaney card.
It’s possible Mme. Gobstein thought I had cheated. I had not. Maybe she didn’t think my spurt in the last grading period overcame my earlier work? No sense asking. After hundreds, maybe thousands of students and four decades gone by, she can’t be expected to remember.
It doesn’t really matter, except I thought she had made an offer and I had delivered my end of the bargain.
Like I said, it’s over 40 years later. I harbor no ill will toward Mme. Gobstein, who was probably a good teacher with a recalcitrant student. Still, even now it hurts.
So, what brings this up? Well, I’m rounding the home stretch at Mississippi State University and taking quizzes and tests on a regular basis. From time-to-time there’s a grade I disagree with – but now I make my case.
The latest came today with a test in Synoptic Meteorology II. I was pleased to have gotten 100%… except when the result came, it was an 80%.
If I was back in Mme. Gobstein’s class during the first marking period, I’d have written it off. But now I had vetted all my answers. The problem is the questions!
I know that sounds strange, but here’s what I’ve found out about multiple choice tests (and that’s what these are): They are more difficult for a professor to write than questions for a test answered in sentences or essays. The instructor has to be very diligent, making sure he doesn’t inadvertently say the wrong thing – making an answer correct only if it is not read thoroughly.
In fact, the more you know – the harder you study – the easier it is to find fault in the questions.
My concerns today had to do with a formula which didn’t exactly match the one in the text and a the interpretation of a sentence.
Which of the following is a description of precision
a. Measurements that produce the same result for a given repeated
b. Hitting the same point every time (“bulls-eye”)
c. Multiple measurements which read the same, but are not accurate
d. All of the above describe precision
You said ‘c’. I answered ‘a’.
From the video outline: