Where WTFs Come From



  • We had dinner with some friends tonight. One of their kids is approaching college age, and the conversation turned to entrance exams, admission, and finally, war stories from our college days 30 years ago.

    I was one of four teaching assistants in a 300 level computer science course of about 500 students; each of us taught 2 sections, twice a week, in addition to the main lectures from the teacher. When it came time for the final exam, we were each supposed to make up two lists of practice and possible exam questions. The day before the exam, I held my two hour review session for 1/4 of the class. I went over the solution to every practice question in excruciating detail.

    The next day, we give out the exams, and we notice that the teacher goofed, and used my practice questions instead of my exam questions on the exam. Uh oh; 1/4 of the class not only had the questions, but the answers in advance. Oh well, we can just grade the exam such that 3/4 of the class gets a curve to compensate for the inadvertent unfair advantage in my sections, right?

    We grade the exam that afternoon, and discover that the distribution of grades is exactly the same, no matter how we sliced it up. The teacher generously decided to just use a common curve for everyone.

    The next day, when I had my sections, I informed them that for those who didn't notice, they had been given the exam questions and answers before the test, and still managed to need a curve to get decent grades.

    And these are the people who went out into the world and got jobs as programmers....



  •  am not sure to follow your story, you mean that, despite having questions and answers in advance, those 1/4 still didn't manage to get better result than rest of students, and this without any need for an adjustment for unfair advantage?



  • Yep, that's what he's saying. In my University department we've had something even more pathetic.

    One of our lecturers thinks it's great that the students WRITE their own exam questions. The way it works is that they get into 6 groups and each group writes a question on a specific topic that they have to research. Then, for the final exam for that module, 4 of these questions are used on the paper (along with some the lecturer has actually written).

    Now, given that some of these questions are on topics not covered ANYWHERE ELSE on the course, the students whose questions appear on the paper are at a distinct advantage (or at least should be). The fact that I mention this case in this thread should tell you that there is no correlation whatsoever between the grades of the students whose question was on the paper and those who weren't.

    The biggest WTF though is that as the topics are sometimes not in the lecturer's field of experience and so they just accept the student's mark scheme as written whether it's right or wrong...



  •  Yeah snoofle I noticed the same thing myself.  I was a TA for 3 years while attending college and I would regularly hold review sessions before the exams.  The teacher liked to reuse questions from previous semesters and I would use previous semesters exams for review.  He would word them a little differently most of the time but sometimes they were exactly the same.  We weren't trying to trick anybody, just to see if they understood the concepts.  So we talked about the concepts, went over questions that were on the test and we always, and I mean ALWAYS had at least 1/3 of the students get those questions that were covered in review wrong on the test. 




  • @snoofle said:


    The next day, when I had my sections, I informed them that for those who didn't notice, they had been given the exam questions and answers before the test, and still managed to need a curve to get decent grades.

    And these are the people who went out into the world and got jobs as programmers....

    And that's exactly why a degree alone is never a sufficient indicator of competence for programmers.


  • @merreborn said:

    And that's exactly why a degree alone is never a sufficient indicator of competence for programmers anyone on anything

    FTFY



  •  Hm, I was taking the Intro to Biology that majors are required to take... So many of these kids who wanted to either be a doctor or "pet flipper" were getting lower than 25% (a,b,c or d) right with something like %34 being the most common score (not avg neither median) and I believe 67% being the averge... was awhile ago though... The prof was like... I just don't get how you all had scores like this, some of you scored worse than if a monkey had taken the exam. These folks, with enough connections to get into med school and pass, are our doctors.



  • @Vechni said:

    Hm, I was taking the Intro to Biology that majors are required to take... So many of these kids who wanted to either be a doctor or "pet flipper" were getting lower than 25% (a,b,c or d) right with something like %34 being the most common score (not avg neither median) and I believe 67% being the averge... was awhile ago though... The prof was like... I just don't get how you all had scores like this, some of you scored worse than if a monkey had taken the exam. These folks, with enough connections to get into med school and pass, are our doctors.

    I'm sorry, what proof do you have that any of your classmates became MDs?  An Intro to Biology class is extremely low on the scale of classes that pre-med students have to take, so I find it a bit presumptuous to assume that your fellow students made it all the way through medical school.



  •  @snoofle: maybe you are just not that good of a teacher :P

     @morbius: man, I just got back, read a couple of posts and noticed: are you grumpier than usual or is it just me?



  • @ZippoLag said:

     @morbius: man, I just got back, read a couple of posts and noticed: are you grumpier than usual or is it just me?

    Lay off.  You sound like my probation officer. 



  • @amischiefr said:

    The teacher liked to reuse questions from previous semesters and I would use previous semesters exams for review.  He would word them a little differently most of the time but sometimes they were exactly the same.  We weren't trying to trick anybody, just to see if they understood the concepts.
     

    When I was in school, I didn't like Maths very much (I still don't). To catch up on things I teamed up with some classmates (all girls of course :-)) to study for our final highschool exams the day before the Maths test. We did some of the common types of questions for the "Statistics" part of the test (like: "A machine fills Coke bottles. There's a 5% chance the bottle is damaged. The throughput is.... How many bottles are ok at the end of the day" and stuff like that).

    The next day we write the test. One of the questions is "A machine produces relays. There's a 5% chance the produced relay doesn't work. ...". Same numbers, different wording. I'm happy. After the test I tell the above mentioned girls how happy I am we got the question about the relays. They are really pissed of because they couldn't solve the question. Why? They didn't know what relays were. So much for "grasping a concept".

    They are all highschool teachers today...



  • @tdittmar said:

    To catch up on things I teamed up with some classmates (all girls of course :-)) to study...

    ...

    They are really pissed of because they couldn't solve the question. Why? They didn't know what relays were. So much for "grasping a concept".

    They are all highschool teachers today...

     

    And there is TRWTF.  You didn't actually expect anything good (except for maybe a date) to come from studying Math with girls did you?  My wife can barely balance her checkbook.  If she had to calculate a partial derivative  she'ld probably crap herself.



  • @amischiefr said:

    You didn't actually expect anything good (except for maybe a date) to come from studying Math with girls did you?
     

    Sadly I was really just hoping to catch up on my Math knowledge. These girls were better at Maths than me as long as they could reproduce - being asked to apply concepts in different situations was beyond them.

    And they were equally nerdy and naive: We had this aquarium in school, the pumps and filters of which were powered by solar cells on the roof, so there were cables running from the ceiling down into the aquarium. Of course, the aquarium also had the obligatory "Do not touch" sign attached to it. I once told these girls that our school was taking part in this international project where they tried to speed up evolution using solar electricity. The aim was to transform the Goldfish into Piranhas (thus the "Do not touch"-sign). It took them three full days and the help of one big-hearted biology teacher to find out I'd made up that story...

    That said I must repeat that they are all highschool teachers today!



  • @amischiefr said:

    And there is TRWTF.  You didn't actually expect anything good (except for maybe a date) to come from studying Math with girls did you?  My wife can barely balance her checkbook.  If she had to calculate a partial derivative  she'ld probably crap herself.

    That's racist. 



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    That's racist. 
     

    sexist



  • @bjolling said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    That's racist. 
     

    sexist

    I agree. morbius is being sexist by implying that women are a different race.



  • @Zecc said:

    I agree. morbius is being sexist by implying that women are a different race.
     

    It took me a full fifteen seconds to get the joke :-)



  • @bjolling said:

    @Zecc said:

    I agree. morbius is being sexist by implying that women are a different race.
     

    It took me a full fifteen seconds to get the joke :-)

    You don't happen to be a girl by any chance...



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @bjolling said:

    @Zecc said:

    I agree. morbius is being sexist by implying that women are a different race.
     

    It took me a full fifteen seconds to get the joke :-)

    You don't happen to be a girl by any chance...

     

    Only logical reason I can come up with.



  •  @morbiuswilters said:

    You don't happen to be a girl by any chance...

    I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition!



  • @tdittmar said:

    These girls were better at Maths than me as long as they could reproduce

    Those must have been some *interesting* study sessions...



  •  See? Girls are only good for reproducing.



  • @upsidedowncreature said:

    @tdittmar said:

    These girls were better at Maths than me as long as they could reproduce

    Those must have been some *interesting* study sessions...

     

    LOL. It took me a while to understand your comment. Actually, it took me until...

    @dhromed said:

    See? Girls are only good for reproducing.
     

    Well, I guess that's what happens when English is not your first language *g*



  • @tdittmar said:

    LOL. It took me a while to understand your comment.
     

    You don't happen to be a girl by any chance...


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