Refusing To Question The Question

| Learning | February 11, 2015

(We are in ‘Gen Ed,’ a required class that every student had to take. It’s a pretty standard, boring class that’s easy to pass so long as you attend, do the work, and don’t slack off. Most students don’t take them too seriously, but neither do most of the professors who teach them… except this one.)

Professor: “All right, here are your exams. We’re going to spend this period reviewing them so that I can give you the correct answers for the final.”

(We begin to go through the test question by question.)

Professor: “Okay, so #24…”

Student #1: “Yeah, I’m confused. I’m pretty sure I answered this right.”

Student #2: “Me, too.”

Student #3: “Yeah.”

Professor: “Yes, this was an interesting one to grade.”

(She proceeds to explain the answer, which only causes further confusion.)

Student #1: “Wait, how are we supposed to figure that out? The way the question is worded doesn’t imply that’s the correct answer at all.”

Professor: “No, it’s fairly obvious.”

(She tries to explain the logic behind the question, but only succeeds in confusing all of us further.)

Student #2: “But the way it’s worded doesn’t make any sense! The textbook says that [x] is the case when [y] occurs, and the way THIS is written, it sounds almost exactly like a case of [x]!”

Student #1: “That’s what I put, too!”

Professor: “Yes, but if you look at the wording…”

Student #3: “But we ARE looking at the wording, and it’s really confusing!”

Professor: “But this one word—”

Student #4: “It wasn’t a fair question. You shouldn’t count it against us!”

(We proceed to spend 15 minutes of this 45 minute class debating the value of the question. Everyone is getting more and more frustrated that the professor refuses to acknowledge how unreasonable it is to expect a specific answer from such a vaguely worded question. Finally:)

Student #1: *fed up* “How many of us actually got this question right?”

Professor: “That’s not relevant.”

Student #1: “It’s entirely relevant! In a class this size, someone HAD to have gotten it.”

Professor: “It was a tough question, I’ll admit. Only 6% of you got it right.”

Entire Class: “SO 94% OF US GOT IT WRONG?!”

Student #1: “So who actually gave the right answer?!”

(Out of the entire class, only one student raises her hand.)

Student #5: *quietly* “I did.”

Student #1: “How did you know the answer?!”

Student #5: “I guessed…”

(At this point, the professor moved on to the next question, ignoring everything else we had to say. She still counted it against us.)

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