Thursday, May 5, 2011

David Giles shares his examination fantasies

Good stuff here from University of Victoria econometrician David Giles, but perhaps not for students who are faint of heart.

At the least, Giles provides a stark reminder of how academia has changed with the passage of time, and the arrival of large numbers of lawyers and bureaucrats trying to avoid lawsuits, standardize and regularize the university experience and, most important of all, increase the net present value of alumni donations.

I have a bit of a middle position here I suppose. I don't tell students the questions in advance for my undergraduate econometrics course, but I also write an exam with a mix of easy, medium and hard questions, where the easy questions should be obvious to anyone who showed up regularly or cracked the book and the hard questions require application of familiar concepts from the course but in slightly altered contexts. I provide practice exams which, while they cost me some time by forcing me to write new exam questions more often, also increase the chance that I am testing students on the material on not on their understanding of how I write questions. As I like to say, the only dimension of the course that should be challenging is the material.

I also always include some humor on my exams to lighten the mood (and, back in the days before I handed exam grading to the teaching assistant, I gave little bits of partial credit for funny and original non-answers).

1 comment:

Dave Giles said...

Thanks for the link! In reality I'm pretty close to you. :-) Lots of practice problem sets and past exams, with detailed solutions.

Dave Giles