26 February, 2013

What Is Your Purpose Here, Forrest

Once again the first exam of the semester has come and gone. Once again the results were disheartening. 5 As, 5Bs, 4 Cs, 10 Ds, 8 Fs. This is not a difficult course, folks. Sophomore level.

I draw my test questions from a pool of about 30 or so that I have been using for what seems like forever - 77 semesters. Sure I occasionally throw out a question or add a new one, but my point is that I have seen just about every correct and incorrect way to answer the ten brief essays which I present them. I have, unfortunately, watched a long slow slide in the quality of their responses.

Can there really have been such a significant shift in the great American intellectual gene pool over just a few decades?! Evolution is supposed to be sloooooow.

I returned the tests on Monday and spent about 25 minutes going over it - indicating what a correct answer might look like and noting the most common errors. I then offered to regrade any question they thought I might have graded too strictly. I had very few takers - three students, six questions - leading me to conclude the grades were accurate. I was surprised.

Should I have been? Or is this simply more of the same attitude that led to the low scores in the first place? My word, I had one student who managed three points out of the 56 on the test. How do you do that?

Tuition is over $30,000 (sticker price w/o aid figured in). Room and board another $12,000 or so. How can you spend that kind of money and not value what you are learning?! How can you allow yourself not to work hard?!

As a group, they are paying roughly $70,000 (sticker price) to take my course. I do all that I can to make it worthwhile? How can they not?

Big sigh.