Exam frustrations and smiles


Everybody in the academic world at times are frustrated when assessing students work.  I look at tests/exams and I wonder whether the student even listened in class (assuming I remember seeing him/her there, otherwise its rather self-explanatory isn’t it?).  Having (mostly) marked exams for the last day and a half I am frustrated… in fact I am disturbed by some of the trends.

Possibly the trend that irritates me most is the act of senseless paraphrasing.  So the Lifecycle stage is called “Service Operation”, a brief explanation is then “deals with operations of services…” Duh? The idea of an explanation is to explain something non-obvious… to add a bit of value, show a tid-bit of insight/understanding. Unfortunately paraphrasing one fact in 3 different ways only leave one fact… Then again if you don’t know what is involved in “the operation of a service” that could be difficult writing something more sensible, but then, why waste your time (and mine) with something clearly non value-adding.

I am also amazed at the number of questions that are left blank after the importance of the work was stressed in class numerous times.  I sometimes make remarks in class that “this has got test / exam question written all over it” – apparently that’s an indication that I will definitely not ask about it (at least for a significant portion of the class, judging by the number of non-attempts at answering the question!) Somebody please explain this to me… I don’t follow!

Of course occasionally there is the student who realise that he/she does not know and still has a sense of humor about it.  This exam (luckily) was no different.  As a starter and to “break the ice” I wanted my students to understand the ITIL perspective on value, and being nice I asked them to complete a sentence (in a diagram) to me: “VALUE = _________ + _________, which means it is fit for __________ and __________ .” of course the correct answer is “VALUE = UTILITY + WARRANTY, which means it is fit for PURPOSE and fit for USE”.  I am glad to report that most got that, except one who could not remember the second part. His answer: “…, which means it is fit for KINGS and QUEENS”. 🙂 No marks there, but I (sadly) did enjoy the interlude.

Which makes me think of a couple of years back when somebody who did not make it wrote at the end of the paper (in Afrikaans, but I’ll translate):

Please Read 2 John 12.

So I did. It said: “I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, …”

He did, we saw for another year face-to-face, but after the second time round he apparently decided pen and paper is probably a better idea…

Please share your exam smiles with me by leaving a comment below.

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One Response to Exam frustrations and smiles

  1. Laurie says:

    Which reminds me of a math professor who was prepping his class for an exam

    “The problems for the exam will be similar to those discussed in class. Of course, the numbers will be different. But not all of them, PI will still be 3.14159…”

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