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Topic: Exam Philosophy
Replies: 17   Last Post: Oct 17, 2009 3:19 PM

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Seese, Lillian

Posts: 38
Registered: 12/6/04
RE: Exam Philosophy
Posted: Sep 3, 2009 6:25 AM
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Can you explain why you included this statement: "Not too easy, for obvious reasons, but also not too hard, as I teach at a private institution, and many of our students are quite poor." ?

Lillian Seese
Mathematics Professor
COL.020 Coordinator
St. Louis Community College at Meramec
11333 Big Bend Blvd. Kirkwood MO 63122


From: on behalf of
Sent: Wed 9/2/2009 9:06 PM
Subject: Exam Philosophy

Hi All,

I just asked a colleague to review an exam. He had a brief look and his preliminary feedback was that it was too long and covered too much stuff. He preferred to have a shorter exam and cover a smaller number of topics in more depth. My feeling is that I like to assess as much of the course as possible, so that no student can get through on sheer luck, having studied a lucky combination of topics. My exams are nearly always of middling difficulty. Not too easy, for obvious reasons, but also not too hard, as I teach at a private institution, and many of our students are quite poor. Hence having more questions means that students who make a reasonable effort should have a reasonable chance of passing. I also set the exam slightly too long, and grade it out of less marks than are in it. For example, if a student scores 85 out of 100, I may give them 85/92 or something. (Its consistent across the class, of course.) In effect, I am discounting their worst questions, or simulating optional questions without the hassle of setting questions of equal value for them to pick and choose between.

Any comments or feedback on my philosophy?

Cheers, Garry Lockwood
University of South Australia

PS UniSA is not he place I am setting htese exams for, this is another institution preparing students for UniSA.

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