Wednesday, April 27, 2005

ain't necessarily so

After reading yesterday's post John tried to persuade me that in future I should make all exams multiple choice. (I suspect him of pulling my leg, but with John one never knows...) If I had a nickel for every time a student tried to persuade me that multiple guess was easier, I would be able to endow my own chair at the academic institution of my choosing.

Having experimented with multiple guess quizzes and one exam, I can state with great certainty that they are not easier. Whether students study less or are simply untrained in taking such tests, the grades are always lower, and I do mean a lot lower, than on the good old-fashioned "now you will write something" format.

Despite the explosion of writing created by blogs, I am of the opinion that good writing is an art, and one that we should all practice.

Speaking of which - I would write, except that I must first read. The Green Book is one that I'd checked out at least four times since starting grad school but never gotten around to reading. Now that I'm forcing myself through it, I know why; it's dry, far drier than it should be, given the topic. Yet since Green Book plays a vital role in Roger's plan for the diss, reading it and not just its reviews, I must and shall.

The library's copy is full of marks. For the first two chapters I blamed the undergrads. Then I noticed the occasional references to historians now only read by doctoral students and conclude that the guilt belongs to one of my peers. Shame upon you, whomever you are.

Words Written: (yawn)
Lessons Graded: twenty


John B. said...


I was kidding and givingyou a hard time....long live the essay test. I hated taking them, but they are necessary to find out what a student really knows, not just guesses at, and they are necessary to practice writing skills.

Rachel said...

It's been my experience that good multiple choice exams are rather hard to write... You can either write (relatively easy) factual questions (I teach lit, by the way) about the text, or you can write better, more complicated questions about the whys and wherefores. But that second type of question is:
a) harder to compose
b) harder to make have one "right" answer and three "wrong" answers
c) prone to student grade-grubbing
d) all of the above.

Long live the passage ID, short answer, and essay questions!