Friday, September 17, 2010

Every day is exam day

Whenever possible, our “exams” are multiple choice.  I know, everyone is probably thinking how awesome that is, multiple choice exams are so easy, right?  Definitely, I like the concept of those exams because it means the answer is on the paper in front of you, just find it.  Too bad nothing in my life is that straight forward.  I have a problem with the fact that these exams don’t care that I can explain the formation of CSF or the structure of a bone, or the function of the central nervous system in how it relates to reflex.  I spend evenings explaining to Matt how TB affects your lungs, or how Hep B runs its course, but that’s not what SIAST wants to make sure I know.  Instead, I get a bunch bullshit questions in this format:

”Which of the following is NOT a characteristic of <insert word>?”

What is that?  How is that an accurate way to test people?  I fail to see how answering questions like that is an accurate representation of what I know on the subject.  It’s not.  Sure, I’m acing these tests, but other people are too.  Based on the questions they ask and their open mouth resting face, I don’t think they know much; I think they’re good at memorizing definitions.

Anyway, we have had ELEVEN tests thus far in our courses, every one of which has been using the infamous Opscan sheets (“bubble” sheets at SIAST). 

On the first exam, there was some confusion about how to fill out the sheet.  But there are only a few rules: use pencil only, fill in your name, and make sure to include your student number (fill it out using the bubbles).  And, after the 10th time using these papers, we still get a lecture about how to properly fill them out.  Not because of SIAST’s uncanny ability to hold our hands, but because every time, somebody fucks it up. 

Last week, before a midterm (having been told 10 times how to use the sheets correctly), a hand went up.  Bandanna Girl had a question about the bubble sheets:
”So where do I put my student number?  Is it in the greyish part?”

Where the fuck is the greyish part?  The whole damn sheet is blue and white.  And how about putting your student number where it says STUDENT IDENTIFICATION NUMBER?  Seriously, Bandanna Girl?  Ten times we’ve been through this.  All you’re doing is filling in little circles with a pencil.  And I’m supposed to let these people come at me with a needle to practice venipunctures?  Unlikely! 

Bandanna Girl: “So how do I get rid of the air in my syringe once I’m already in the vein?”
No thanks, idiots.  Back away from the Jacquie-vein.


StuartMcC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
deedub said...

“So how do I get rid of the air in my syringe once I’m already in the vein?”

(wide eyes and raised eyebrows, speechless)

twitch said...

She didn't actually ask that, but she's so dumb she might. Which is why I don't want any of these people near me with needles.

Fickle Cattle said...

I agree that it probably isn't a good way to test people, but essay writing (I'm in law school) has its downside too. You're in the mercy of the professor's moods, and he can always claim academic freedom when asked about his arbitrary scoring.

I usually do well in these exams, so I really have no reason to complain; I'm just playing devil's advocate.

I guess my point is there is no best way to check someone's intelligence. Schools just do the best they can.

Also, if I may say so, I'm from the Philippines, and I find the title of your blog offensive. I know it's your blog, and I really shouldn't even be reading this if I don't like what you're writing, but I couldn't help commenting. I hope you don't, at least, intend to offend. You can choose to delete this comment if you want to anyway.

I am Fickle Cattle.

twitch said...

FC: The point of my post was not to get essay question exams, I understand the nature of subjectivity. I was more displeased with the 'double negative' type of questions I had been experiencing. They are more like a trick than a test of your actual knowledge base.

I fail to see why "Engrish Comics| would offend you in the Phillippines. You lack the accent on English that causes the r/l problems for so many English as a Second Language students in Asia. Not to mention the fact that Engrish is quite a common slang term both on the internet and in North America.

I think (in any situation) it's important if you are offended, to stop and think "am I taking this/myself too seriously?" Because I think if you asked that of yourself, in this case you would find that you are. Because remember: a blind person doesn't get offended when people ask them to "look at this" or ask "did you see that?" Don't be so disputatious and oversensitive. And I would suggest looking around and see if you can buy a sense of humour somewhere over there.

Offended by something that isn't targeting you in the least? Welcome to the internet, navigate away from it and put it out of your mind. I'm sure there are bigger fish to fry in your life.