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Author Topic: Drake Law Faculty Bumbles Writing Exams, Will Students Suffer?  (Read 16665 times)

ISUCKATTHIS

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Re: Drake Law Faculty Bumbles Writing Exams, Will Students Suffer?
« Reply #80 on: May 07, 2009, 01:16:25 PM »
"Obviously, you're free to disagree with me, but without any analysis, it's just stubbornness and not a debate."

Fair, but I'm too tired to reiterate.  I'll try to find the relevant posts and bring them back up to the surface.

Sucks that you think I'm a "jerk," but I can live with that.

ISUCKATTHIS

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Re: Drake Law Faculty Bumbles Writing Exams, Will Students Suffer?
« Reply #81 on: May 07, 2009, 01:17:11 PM »
ISUCKATTHIS, can you please provide an affirmative proposal for what you think should happen?

That's a much harder question and I am not qualified to address it.  I'll take a stab anyway.

In order to answer this question comprehensively, you'd have to know how many students were affected.

Probably the best solution, if it is possible, is to curve separately those students taking the test under different conditions.  That would mean having a separate curve for all those students whose exams were misformatted.  The obvious problem with this idea is that there may be an insufficient number of such students to form a normal distribution. 

Another, less fair solution would be to re-weight the questions for all or a portion of the students according to their exam's format.  Students with the proper format would get the exams with the original weighting scheme, students with an improper format would get a weighting scheme that compensated for their misallocation of time during the exam.  This would mean de-emphasizing the latter two questions in the weighting scheme.

Finally, if all else fails, one or all of the following imperfect solutions could be applied:  1) the formatting and/or organization of essay answers to the latter two questions could be officially disregarded by the administration in the grading process (i.e., grading for content only), 2) students with misformatted exams could be given compensatory points or 3) the last two questions could be disregarded in the grading process.

Miss P

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Re: Drake Law Faculty Bumbles Writing Exams, Will Students Suffer?
« Reply #82 on: May 07, 2009, 01:22:26 PM »
You keep adding things into your post; I can't keep up.

Your personal anecdotes are interesting, but I don't think they break any new ground.  I think you would have hard time arguing that your missing multiple choice questions based on something the professor said would put you at a disadvantage relative to other students if they all had the same exam.  Don't get me wrong, I sympathize and that sucks (and, in an ideal world, I don't think it should be held against you).  However, you can't argue that you were being treated unfairly with respect to other students... unless I missed something.  In that case I agree that it really was your oversight, not the professor's.  In the other, I think you were right to challenge the admin.  That situation was patently unfair and left some students advantaged over others.  You were totally and completely right to have the administration correct the error. 

The OP's situation clearly falls somewhere in between.  I think it's closer to the exam timing issue.

No, no new ground.  My point is that your accusation that people taking my position are hypercompetitive hypocrites completely lacking in empathy for their fellow students is off the mark.  In the situation where I thought an exam had been administered unfairly, I protested for weeks even though I expected my own grade to suffer, and in the situation where my personal oversight led me to do worse on an exam than I had hoped (B+), I sucked it up.  

And we disagree about the last bit: the poor copying was an administrative oversight, but failing to look through the questions before allotting her time was the student's.  I have taken approximately 20 law school exams at this point, and I honestly can't imagine that flipping through the extra instruction sheets and trying to figure out the number of questions on the exam would take more than 60 seconds.  And I am -- as my last anecdote indicates -- obviously not the most organized or confident test-taker.  Would my heart race a little extra?  Probably.  Is this anything like getting half an hour less than your fellow students?  No way.
That's cool how you referenced a case.

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ISUCKATTHIS

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Re: Drake Law Faculty Bumbles Writing Exams, Will Students Suffer?
« Reply #83 on: May 07, 2009, 01:28:17 PM »
I can't guarantee that misformatting the exam wouldn't screw me up.  Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn't... probably depends on the time of day, what I ate for breakfast and whether or not Ben Bernanke gets his act together.  Who knows?  I don't think anybody does until they've been in that situation.   

More importantly, I can certainly imagine that it would screw some people up.  Therefore, I think it's unfair and should be corrected. 

I fundamentally disagree with the contention that it is inconceivable that the misformatting would have an impact on exam performance.

Miss P

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Re: Drake Law Faculty Bumbles Writing Exams, Will Students Suffer?
« Reply #84 on: May 07, 2009, 01:41:16 PM »
[1]Probably the best solution, if it is possible, is to curve separately those students taking the test under different conditions.  That would mean having a separate curve for all those students whose exams were misformatted.  The obvious problem with this idea is that there may be an insufficient number of such students to form a normal distribution. 

[2]Another, less fair solution would be to re-weight the questions for all or a portion of the students according to their exam's format.  Students with the proper format would get the exams with the original weighting scheme, students with an improper format would get a weighting scheme that compensated for their misallocation of time during the exam.  This would mean de-emphasizing the latter two questions in the weighting scheme.

Finally, if all else fails, one or all of the following imperfect solutions could be applied:  [3] the formatting and/or organization of essay answers to the latter two questions could be officially disregarded by the administration in the grading process (i.e., grading for content only), [4] students with misformatted exams could be given compensatory points or [5] the last two questions could be disregarded in the grading process.

Taking these in turn:

[1] is the solution I proposed. It is likely an excessive response to the error, but if the number of students who took the poorly copied exam is significant enough, and they do not represent some special segment of the class, then I think the professor should go ahead and do this.

[2] is not fair to students who took the poorly copied exam and allocated their time appropriately (who I happen to suspect make up the majority); they deserve the high value of the points they earned on the last questions.  Weighing the questions differently than the exam indicated would only be fair if the professor could tailor the remedy to individual students, but there is no way of knowing how different students dealt with the poor copying.  Trying to guess, from reading the exams, how individual students dealt with the copying error, would just result in giving people more points for the questions on which they did well.  

[3] is unfair to the students who did well on the last two questions.  Moreover, any professor will tell you that it is very difficult to ignore the formatting or organization of an exam answer.  Part of the reason they care about that stuff is because a properly formatted and organized answer conveys the substance much better than a poorly formatted and organized answer.

[4] is unfair to students who took the properly formatted exam.  And how would you determine the number of points?  

[5] is absolutely absurd and is completely unfair to students who worked hard on those questions or the topics they covered.
That's cool how you referenced a case.

Quote from: archival
I'm so far from the end of my tether right now that I reckon I could knit myself some socks with the slack.

Miss P

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Re: Drake Law Faculty Bumbles Writing Exams, Will Students Suffer?
« Reply #85 on: May 07, 2009, 01:45:57 PM »
I fundamentally disagree with the contention that it is inconceivable that the misformatting would have an impact on exam performance.

I didn't say this.  Indeed, it's obvious that it had an impact on the OP's performance.  My contention is that it would not have an impact on the performance of a student who took the reasonable care most students do with exams.  I'm sorry that the OP was thrown off so much, but I can't imagine that allocating time appropriately would have taken more than an extra minute.
That's cool how you referenced a case.

Quote from: archival
I'm so far from the end of my tether right now that I reckon I could knit myself some socks with the slack.

ISUCKATTHIS

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Re: Drake Law Faculty Bumbles Writing Exams, Will Students Suffer?
« Reply #86 on: May 07, 2009, 01:52:40 PM »
Okay, so let's bring up straw men again.  I never said those solutions were perfect or completely fair.  In fact, I admitted they were imperfect.  It says so in the quote in your next to last post.  Arguing that the solutions are all imperfect and, therefore, either (1) I am wrong or (2) doing nothing is preferable is arguing against a straw man indeed.

Even if those solutions are imperfect (as I admitted), each is better than simply saying to the students with the misformatted exams:  "you should have checked!  It's your fault!  I would have!  Screw you!"

I agree that the solutions are imperfect, but they're each better than doing absolutely nothing. 

"My contention is that it would not have an impact on the performance of a student who took the reasonable care most students do with exams."

Agreed, but there is no basis for that except your other contention that this mishap wouldn't affect your performance.  I don't know about you particularly, but I think this could easily affect someone's performance.  Further, it is clearly not the same test being given to all students.  On that basis, I think something should be done.

Miss P

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Re: Drake Law Faculty Bumbles Writing Exams, Will Students Suffer?
« Reply #87 on: May 07, 2009, 02:00:02 PM »
Even if those solutions are imperfect (as I admitted), each is better than simply saying to the students with the misformatted exams:  "you should have checked!  It's your fault!  I would have!  Screw you!"

I agree that the solutions are imperfect, but they're each better than doing absolutely nothing. 

This is where we disagree.  The professor has to make a judgment about how to address the problem without making things worse.  Each of the solutions you proposed, with the exception of the first (which I believe everyone here has endorsed) is more unfair than giving some students extra instruction sheets in the middle of their exams.  They have (in some cases quantifiable, and almost certainly larger) negative impacts on more students.

And there you go again.  No one is saying "screw you."  We're just saying that there might not be a good solution and that the error, while unfortunate, was not a huge deal in the scheme of things.
That's cool how you referenced a case.

Quote from: archival
I'm so far from the end of my tether right now that I reckon I could knit myself some socks with the slack.

This is wrong.

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Re: Drake Law Faculty Bumbles Writing Exams, Will Students Suffer?
« Reply #88 on: May 07, 2009, 02:01:29 PM »

But I can't stand all this "personal responsibility" moralizing.  It's one thing to say - "look, I understand and sympathize, but this particular administrative screw up shouldn't have caused you much harm" and quite another to say "grow up! you're in law school!  you are responsible for checking the format of your exam and, if there is any error, it is your personal responsibility to detect and fix it in the time frame provided.  i would have.  I always do this without fail."  I think that's totally unreasonable and I seriously doubt (perhaps unfairly) that any one holding the OP to that standard would hold him/herself to it in the same or similar situation.


Really?  Really?

Jesus Christ, you suck at this.

It's not that people don't feel bad for the OP, but it seriously was not that big of a deal.  I missed a whole page on an exam once because, for some reason, the professor decided to print it on the reverse side of the third (out of four) pages without warning and without notice of how many questions there were.

Was I pissed?  Yes. 

Was it my fault for not checking the exam thoroughly, particularly since I've been prompted to do so before every exam I've ever taken?  Yes.

Did I talk to the professor to see what could be done?  Yes.

Did it help?  No.

Did I sack up and live with it?  Yes.

It's a terrible predicament, but penalizing the majority for this oversight is ridiculous. 

[/what every other smart person in this thread has been saying]




I get the sense that you're just clinging to your argument because you started it.  You should know that this is not clever. 
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ISUCKATTHIS

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Re: Drake Law Faculty Bumbles Writing Exams, Will Students Suffer?
« Reply #89 on: May 07, 2009, 02:04:07 PM »
"No one is saying "screw you."

While I'm sure you'd be more polite, you'd be effectively dinging their GPAs for something they had nothing to do with.  I'd much prefer to be insulted than to have that happen to me.