Today's Post is Brought to You by the Letter "F"
You know that episode of Seinfeld where George says something along the lines of, "It's not you, it's me"?
No matter how long I teach, I think I will always struggle with this: Yesterday students took midterm. Last night, I graded midterm. Today, I played around with the results - average, standard deviation, commonly missed questions, etc., And guess what? The results were, um, pretty f---ing lousy.
So now I go through my Seinfeld-esque question: Is it them? Or is it me? Was my exam too difficult? Or did they not study enough? Did I not spend enough time lecturing? Or did they spend too much time looking at the clock, wishing it was 2:30 already?
Experienced lecturers, teachers, instructors, professors, please weigh in: How do you know if/when an exam is "too difficult"? How do you know when to say (if only mentally) to your students, "It's not you, it's me"?
Mr. J. has been teaching college kids for quite some time. He says that the average score I came up with is not bad. Not bad at all. In fact, if it were any higher, I would be guilty of throwing them a nice, underhand, um, lob? Softball? I know nothing about sports, clearly. Let's be creative and add another "f" and say I would be guilty of grade inFlation.
But, they did a lot worse than they did on the first exam. A. lot. worse. Only TWO students did better on this exam than they did on the first one. In true Teacher Lady fashion, I present to you a multiple choice question of sorts. My students did poorly on this exam and that can best be explained by (check all that apply):
- I warned them about the first exam being extremely difficult (which I did) and subsequently put the fear of gob in them and so they did fairly well. This gave them a false sense of confidence which led to less studying and thus, that loud flunking sound heard throughout the land yesterday was the result.
- I should have warned them to study for the second exam. I did not threaten, cajole and scare the living daylights out of them, so they didn't study and this is what happens.
- I spent too much time trying to use the classroom for application, with the expectation that they could read the text on their own. (And this raises a whole other post about textbooks: Base your lecture heavily on the text, and you get whiny evals that say, "All she did was lecture from the book - I could have done the reading on my own and just taken the exams and done just as well. I didn't need to go to class!" Try to use the book as the knowledge piece of Bloom's Taxonomy - and make students responsible for that - and use the classroom for comprehension/application and you get even whinier evals that say, "Why in the heck did I have to buy the textbook when she never lectured from it? If it weren't for the stupid exams, I never would have opened it at all." Aside: Teaching has given me a deep understanding for the phrase, "Damned if you do; damned if you don't." Much like my first marriage. But I digress.)
- The questions were hard to understand - what with all the "GRE" words like "nocturnal" and stuff - which, by the way, is a term used in the text, which then brings me back to . . .
- They don't read the textbook and expect to do well on the exams just by showing up and staying awake for an extended period of time.
- Other: Write answer here.
What do I say to my students tomorrow? "Hey, gang! Y'all tanked on the exam, but don't worry - it's not you, it's me!" Sigh. Help!!
EDITED TO ADD: Don't worry, I'm currently seeing a professional regarding my ellipses addiction.