01 May, 2012

Test Anxiety

And so it begins.

Today is the last day of classes, and final examinations will begin quicker than a duck on a Junebug.

Oh, the humanity!

Quite frankly, this assessment element is my least favorite part of being a professor. I don't mind making up the tests; that's fun and requires some creativity. What has become drudgery is the grading of those examinations. Students aren't as well prepared as they were a couple of decades ago, and it's been getting steadily worse. It is almost painful to see how little can be learned in spite of your best efforts.

Hope springs eternal though. Perhaps examination scores have bottomed out, and the average student will again be motivated to work.

Assuming they survive my course, many students will be surprised to learn that in addition to their course exams the college has instituted a comprehensive examination that all students must pass before a degree will be granted. Blame it on governmental pressure for greater accountability and pressure to document that our curricula have actually taught our students something.

State Ed is always pecking at us, and we don't like it. So ... I offer the questions ahead of time. Maybe the students will do better.

Wish them luck. How would you do?

Senior Comprehensive Examination
Read each question carefully, and answer all questions.
Time Limit: 4 hours.

Describe the history of the papacy from its origins to the present day, concentrating especially, but not exclusively, on its social, political, economic, religious, and philosophical impact on Europe, Asia, America, and Africa. Be brief, concise, and specific.

You have been provided with a razor blade, a piece of gauze, and a bottle of Scotch. Remove your appendix. Do not suture until your work has been inspected. You have 15 minutes.

Twenty-five hundred riot-crazed aborigines are storming the classroom. Calm them. You may use any ancient language except Latin or Greek.

Create life. Estimate the differences in subsequent human culture if this form of life had developed 500 million years earlier, with special attention to its probable effect on the English parliamentary system. Prove your thesis.

Write a piano concerto. Orchestrate and perform it with flute and drum. You will find a piano under your seat.

Based on your degree of knowledge of their works, evaluate the emotional stability, degree of adjustment, and repressed frustrations of each of the following: Alexander of Aphrodisias, Rameses II, Gregory of Nicea, Hammurabi. Support your evaluations with quotations from each man's work, making appropriate references. It is not necessary to translate.

Estimate the sociological problems which might accompany the end of the world. Construct an experiment to test your theory.

Define management. Define science. How do they relate? Why? Create a generalized algorithm to optimize all managerial decisions. Assuming a Fujitsu K computer at 10.51 petaflops supporting 100 terminals, each terminal to activate your algorithm, design the communications interface and all necessary control programs.

The disassembled parts of a high-powered rifle have been placed in a box on your desk. You will also find an instruction manual, printed in Swahili. In ten minutes a hungry Bengal tiger will be admitted to the room. Take whatever action you feel is appropriate. Be prepared to justify your decision.

Develop a realistic plan for refinancing the national debt. Trace the possible effects of your plan in the following areas: Cubism, the Donatist controversy, the wave theory of light. Outline a method for preventing these effects. Criticize this method from all possible points of view. Point out the deficiencies in your point of view, as demonstrated in your answer to the last question.

There is a red telephone on the desk beside you. Start World War III. Report at length on its socio-political effects, if any.

Take a position for or against truth. Prove the validity of your position.

Explain the nature of matter. Include in your answer an evaluation of the impact of the development of mathematics on science.

Sketch the development of human thought; estimate its significance. Compare with the development of any other kind of thought.

Describe in detail. Be objective and specific.

Define the universe; give three examples.