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Topic: Making good exams that are easy to grade
Replies: 20   Last Post: Feb 6, 2006 6:14 PM

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 tom schirling Posts: 8 Registered: 2/5/06
Re: Making good exams that are easy to grade
Posted: Feb 5, 2006 5:23 PM
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It has been my experience that care must be exercised when selecting words. I agree that unless you have covered the meaning of a word such as 'biweekly', avoid using it. Students will tend not to ask for a definition of unfamiliar words.

I also agree that careful and precise wording of a problem statement will limit the potential for any student to become confused or to misintrepret the problem. However, in your attempts to be precise, avoid using too many words. There is an art to being both clear and succinct.

Tom S.

"Dave L. Renfro" <discussions@mathforum.org> wrote:
luciepoirier wrote:

http://mathforum.org/kb/message.jspa?messageID=4272476

> Would the two following questions be equivalent?
>
> 1) Richard's goal is to save \$300. He saves
> 15% of his biweekly pay cheque of \$720. How
> many paycheques will it take to reach his goal?
>
> 2) Richard's goal is to save \$300. He receives
> a paycheque of \$720 every two weeks and
> saves 15% of each of his paycheque. How
> many paycheques will it take to reach his goal?

I wouldn't use "biweekly" unless you're sure students
will know the meaning, or it's a term that you're
testing whether they know. However, if the latter,
you'll have to pay close attention when grading,
in order to distinguish between errors involving
the meaning of the term "biweekly" and mathematical
errors.

I'd go with something like the following:

Richard's goal is to save at least \$300 from
his paycheques. [1] [2] If Richard receives
a paycheque in the amount of \$720 every two
weeks and saves 15% of this amount, how many
paycheques will it take for Richard to reach
this [3] goal?

[1] Note the "at least" part, which makes more
sense for the student beginning to solve the
problem and also in real life.

[2] Note the explicit specification that the
money saved only comes from his paycheques.

[3] "this" goal, not "his" goal, since Richard
may have other goals besides saving \$300
from his paycheques.

Dave L. Renfro

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