Wednesday, April 23, 2014

End of semester

As we approach the end of the semester, it becomes time to give exams: first, in class, and then finals.  It's one of the duties of a professor that I like the least.  I don't mind testing what the students have learned, it's the format of it that I hate.
I recall  in my days as an undergraduate that one of my professors offered the class a choice: did we want the final exam to be open book or closed book?  He went on to point out that he could make the final much more "interesting" if we went with the open notes option --- subtly hint (or perhaps not so subtly hinting) that we might not want to choose that option.  We went for the closed book.
These days, I always allow my students to bring in a 3x5 index card: I tell them they may write on one side of it, and it should be legible.  Apart from that, it can have anything they want written on it.  This has a pedagogical purpose: the act of creating the notecard should tell them what they know, and what they need to know better, and in discovering that, they can focus their studying more effectively.  And sometimes, it works.

Yours, feeling testy,

No comments: