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An Open-Book And Closed Case

, , , , , , | Learning | November 2, 2017

(Students have just gotten their first tests back from me in one of my computer programming classes. If I had to place the difficulty of my tests on a 10-scale, compared to tests I took myself when I was in school, I’d rate them about a 7 or 8 in difficulty. The grades on this test are decent and I’m pleased with them, but I see a few discouraged looks. I acknowledge one student:)

Student #1: “This test seemed a bit hard.”

Me: “Yes, I agree; it covered a lot. But remember, I do grade on a curve and I don’t think anyone did worse than a C.”

Student #2: “Why is it open-book? Could there be another format?”

(I can tell that [Student #2] is wishing for memorize-and-regurgitate tests, which are arguably easy for people with good memories.)

Me: “I consider this a practical course, not a theoretical one. I think it’s more important that you grasp the concepts involved than memorize the minutia.” *I pause to think* “I suppose I could give a take-home test.”

(The whole class pauses to take this in. After a moment there is a lot of head-shaking from the class.)

Student #2: *in a slight panic* “No, no! That’s okay. Open book is fine.”

(He was probably wise. I’m thinking now what I’d put on a take-home test for programming. Definitely would have rated a 10.)