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Old 09-22-2009, 12:37 AM   #1
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No long answers on exams anymore?

In Alberta we just got a new policy for all sciences and math departments(for high school). The alberta education minster has decided to eliminate long answer question from provincial and diploma exams. Why you ask, well to cut down costs of course! I don't care, I'm pretty happy, i hate long answer. I'm done anyways but still cutting down on exams for teenagers just makes me a little sick and wonder what's going to happen to the kids who are younger then me? Are they going to get a worse deal on this? I had 12 years of long answer, I'm going to be happy i don't have to do another one (had to take my bio 30....). It's what made me almost fail my psychology exam, and most exams i take (guess why... because i have shitty grammar!!!) but i know my content like the back of my hand. I'm a unique individual I don't learn like normal people, so i really hope this doesn't affect the next generation and or mine.

So what's your opinion on this?
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Old 09-22-2009, 12:39 AM   #2
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sounds pretty stupid to me, especially if it's for cost cutting. i was never a fan of long answers, but for all those who hate them there's those who really earn their marks and rise above the pack because they can apply their knowledge in long answer.

that said i was an english kid, so i fully support no long answer, for maths especially
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Old 09-22-2009, 12:52 AM   #3
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i will admit, the essay questions on tests do kind of tick me off because it usually takes months for me to find out my grade. however, i feel students will be missing out on something vital by not having to write essays for tests anymore.
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Old 09-22-2009, 12:55 AM   #4
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Wait...how are you supposed to bullshit your way through tests now?
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Old 09-22-2009, 08:25 AM   #5
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The text message generation...
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Old 09-22-2009, 08:37 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by indra View Post
Wait...how are you supposed to bullshit your way through tests now?
u cnt n e more
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Old 09-22-2009, 08:38 AM   #7
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one of the only classes i had in college that i actually enjoyed and learned something from was all essay tests. it was on world history from the industrial revolution to present day. covered all regions of the world and their histories from then until now. the instructor made it very interesting, but you had to take tons of notes and couldnt daydream at all. for tests he would give us 15 terms on a sheet of paper and we would have to pick 10 of them and write as much as we could about them. he gave us a 1-10 based on our responses and the test was out of 100. very challenging, but i loved it. took it last summer and was one of my last classes of college. think i barely missed an A.

i gotta have my mom find that notebook and bring it down to me. it was probably almost full of notes. great info to review.
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Old 09-26-2009, 01:08 AM   #8
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Comprehension versus memorization.

It so often seems society no longer values learning, just the ability to regurgitate what you've been told and forget it the next day.
Not that essay tests are the end all and be all, but it is a sign.

Besides, multiple choice questions don't get part marks.

It's like in math, would you prefer to get marked on your final answer only, or show your work?
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Old 09-26-2009, 02:21 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by ~BrightestStar~ View Post
It's like in math, would you prefer to get marked on your final answer only, or show your work?


I was horrified the first time I had to hand in how I got my answers on a math exam. I generally got the correct answers, but apparently managed to do so in a manner unknown to the rest of mankind. While those who actually knew what they were doing might take four to six steps to solve a problem, I would often wander all over the place, taking 15-20 steps to get to an end. Can I help it if I like taking the scenic route?

I did figure out that I could often eek out a passing grade by getting partial credit for every problem, even if I only actually completely finished a relatively small number of them.
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Old 09-26-2009, 12:16 PM   #10
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I had almost exclusively multiple choice (multiple guess?) exams in undergrad and then essay-type open-book exams in law school. I preferred the latter by miles.
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Old 09-26-2009, 12:47 PM   #11
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My high school and college was into the whole liberal arts, seminar style classes so most of my college exams, at least junior and senior year were essays. I always did better on those, but usually preferred multiple choice b/c the profs could have them Scantron'd within 24 hrs and we wouldn't have to wait forever for the prof or TA to grade. The scores I got on my standardized tests (ACTs) never matched my actual grades, but I always hated writing pages and pages even if I did better (ugh, theology exams were the worst!!).

We must have done a lot more writing at my HS than others b/c when I was a TA in college I could not believe how few students could write a thesis statement and structure even the most basic of essays (I TA'd for a half-semester class that touched on how to research, structure a paper, prepare works cited, etc).
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Old 09-26-2009, 06:22 PM   #12
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The teacher that I was out late with on Thursday night could never have had time to wake up before school and correct a bunch of long answer tests. She got the multiple choice ones done over breakfast though.
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Old 09-26-2009, 06:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
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I was horrified the first time I had to hand in how I got my answers on a math exam. I generally got the correct answers, but apparently managed to do so in a manner unknown to the rest of mankind. While those who actually knew what they were doing might take four to six steps to solve a problem, I would often wander all over the place, taking 15-20 steps to get to an end. Can I help it if I like taking the scenic route?

I did figure out that I could often eek out a passing grade by getting partial credit for every problem, even if I only actually completely finished a relatively small number of them.
Awww!

Well, for me, in HS my teacher would often only look at the final answer, if you got it right, you got full marks. But, if you got it wrong, she would go back through your answer and follow your logic...at the very least you got partial marks (and thus rewarded for an honest effort, which I think was encouraging for those who had trouble rather than getting a zero). And if your only mistake was one of those stupid ones ( 2 cubed is 6, right? ) then you would only usually lose half a mark.

Also, when we had to solve equations and stuff, I too would sometimes take the scenic route....we never got docked marks for it, she would just draw an arrow connecting the more direct route.

Of course, this was the same teacher who enforced no calculators. Which while I thought it was a pain in the ass, it was a good skill to practice. Especially given increasing reports that not only are university students shitty at writing, they can't do math either. (a whole other lengthy debate)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Liesje View Post
My high school and college was into the whole liberal arts, seminar style classes so most of my college exams, at least junior and senior year were essays. I always did better on those, but usually preferred multiple choice b/c the profs could have them Scantron'd within 24 hrs and we wouldn't have to wait forever for the prof or TA to grade. The scores I got on my standardized tests (ACTs) never matched my actual grades, but I always hated writing pages and pages even if I did better (ugh, theology exams were the worst!!).

We must have done a lot more writing at my HS than others b/c when I was a TA in college I could not believe how few students could write a thesis statement and structure even the most basic of essays (I TA'd for a half-semester class that touched on how to research, structure a paper, prepare works cited, etc).
Well, considering how long some of my profs took to get scantron results to us, it made zero difference to me. Hell, sometimes the long answer profs got marks back sooner.
And depending on the size of the class, and how many TAs there are (and how qualified they are), long answer is not that difficult for them to handle. Especially if they limit how long the long answers are. Ie. a short paragraph about something, or a definition, rather than a full blown essay.
All the benefits of asking for long answer, yet none of the length.
(unless you had me )

And university's have been complaining for years about the writing skills of students, and I don't think it's gotten better, despite efforts to do so. When I read emails from fellow students - especially one's to prof, my brain hurts and I die a little on the inside.


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The teacher that I was out late with on Thursday night could never have had time to wake up before school and correct a bunch of long answer tests. She got the multiple choice ones done over breakfast though.
Time management? *shrug*

Some teachers used to give us our MC marks, and the long answer marks a little later. Most of us could comprehend why long answer takes longer to mark.

It comes down to class sizes too...smaller classes make long answer more manageable. Meanwhile, I know a prof with a class of 600 who still insists on giving all long answer tests. It's insane, and the marking suffers because of it...too much skimming, etc. Lots of complaints.
In that case MC really is the only way to go.
(but then, that leads me back to my arguments about how universities are run and the value of learning....)
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Old 09-26-2009, 07:50 PM   #14
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The teacher that I was out late with on Thursday night could never have had time to wake up before school and correct a bunch of long answer tests. She got the multiple choice ones done over breakfast though.
Somehow as a member of a profession that routinely works 80-90 hours a week, I don't have a lot of sympathy for this line of argument. My Mom and brother are both teachers, they both have about 3 hours during the school day of prep time during which they can grade materials, among other things. And they are done their day at about 2:30 pm. Even when my brother coaches, he's home by 5. I don't remember a day I was home by 5.

(My brother would be the first to tell you that he is perfectly capable of grading within a reasonable amount of time, and he teaches high school English, where there really is a lot of volume.)
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Old 09-26-2009, 09:41 PM   #15
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And depending on the size of the class, and how many TAs there are (and how qualified they are), long answer is not that difficult for them to handle. Especially if they limit how long the long answers are. Ie. a short paragraph about something, or a definition, rather than a full blown essay.
All the benefits of asking for long answer, yet none of the length.
(unless you had me )
The profs that loved essays knew no limits on their long answers! Not sure how other colleges test, but ours sold "blue books" at the bookstore, which were basically 30 cent notebooks with maybe ten pages or so and you would buy one for each exam, except my theology prof who required us to have three. I remember writing one gender studies exam and my hand killed so bad (I write very neat but have never held my pen properly) so I asked the prof if I could go next door to the computer lab and just type my answers for christ sake. Amazingly, she said yes so half the class got up and went next door to type the rest of the exam.

Ironically our accounting exams always took the longest to get back even though it was mostly math. If the final number is correct there's no reason to have to check the entire problem.

Yeah I don't buy the time argument either. Phil is a teacher and he works weeknights nights as well. Albeit he teaches either elementary or high school special ed so he is not grading 10 page essay exams, but he does a lot of prep work. Even when he is subbing part of the day and the pay includes a "prep time". The college profs can just hire TAs to do the grunt work. Considering their salaries I would hope they are not spending hours each day grading exams!
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