Big Fun Ex*m PrepA Student-Centered Technique for Creating Ex*ms as a Learning ActivityA presentation by Larry Short
I have used this technique for several years and so I am writing it up in case it might be useful to anyone else. The basic principles are:
Students make up a set of questions for possible inclusion on an ex*m
The questions are all posted in a Question Bank that class members can study to prepare for the ex*m.
I select the appropriate number of questions, clean them up a little, and enter them into a test in Blackboard.
The basic advantages to the students are:
They get practice in anticipating the kinds of questions that will show up on an ex*m. This skill is characteristic of students who routinely score high on ex*ms.
In order to make good questions the students must understand the material in greater depth.
Students know they have had a high-level of input into the ex*m, so it is not something they resent because it is ”being done to them.” They have some ownership of it. They are not alienated from the ex*m and this minimizes test anxiety.
Testimonial from Kinsey Blakemore, Fall 2010 Honestly, I wish all teachers would do their tests and assignments in a similar manner. I actually get to do some thinking! I felt confident and prepared for this exam, and I’m usually prone to test anxiety. My usual method for exam studying involved, I hate to say it, memorizing the textbook. However, this test was different. The assignments we did helped me a lot because I got the basic concepts of the chapters from doing them. Also, I loved creating questions for the exam because in doing so, I gained even more understanding of the material. I found that in order to create a good question about something, I really had to understand it first. It was also helpful to go through and answer my classmates’ questions. I got an idea of what I knew well, and what I needed more understanding of. I’m really enjoying this class and learning a lot. Thank you for not doing the typical “read the book and answer the questions” type of assignments!
Notes: The assignment instructions follow and then there are excerpts from ex*ms from this semester. I do not need to worry about letting the ex*ms out because they will be different every semester. It takes me about 3 hours to select questions from the Question Bank and turn them into an ex*m on Blackboard. The quality of the questions provides me assessment information about how well students are understanding and remembering the material.
Assignment 7, Big Fun The better you know how to prepare for exams, then the better you will do in school. I don't want to go so far as to say that you will have more fun too, but you will certainly have less stress. ;-) For that reason, this assignment is devoted to practicing how to prepare for exams and, not exactly coincidentally, actually preparing for our first exam.
What I would like you to do is to create a set of questions on course material thus far that would be appropriate for inclusion on an exam. Some of these questions will be used on our first exam. Therefore, you have the opportunity to shape the exam and I hope you will take the initiative to create an exam like you think an exam ought to be. Have you complained about the pointless and unfair exams teachers have given you in the past? Well, here's your chance. Please think about what course material it is reasonable to expect people to know and what kinds of questions will measure whether they know it. Please think of the best exam questions you have ever seen and try to write ones like that. If you have no idea what a good exam question would be then please email me some of your samples and we will talk about them. By the way , if you don't know what a good exam question is then I predict that you are stressed out whenever you have to prepare for an exam-so let's take this opportunity to better understand good exam questions.
Please make5 Multiple Choice questions on each decade from the 1900's through the 1940's. That is 5 decades for 25 questions. For the content you should trust your own experience of the videos, but you should also read through our classmates' assignments. To sweeten the pot, you can get 10 PTP's for reading our classmates' "life stories" for A4, We Are Forrest Gump and Replying to three that you think had very interesting lives (and did the best job of making material that helped you remember the events of the time). You can get another 10 PTP's by reading our classmates' A5 assignments and again Replying to three that you thought were especially interesting and effective. These PTP opportunities must be done by Wednesday OCT 6 so that you can spend Thursday and Friday making the 25 questions.
The questions you submit will be scored on your apparent effort to create good exam questions, so please read all of these instructions carefully for advice on what constitutes good questions. Also, part of what makes a good multiple choice question is that the wrong answers are somewhat plausible, and not ridiculous. It is not a good question if someone can figure it out just because 3 of the possible answers are nonsense.
Please subscribe to the Goldilocks and the 3 Bears school of question design: Not too hard / Not too easy / Just right. What I hope that means is that we are not looking for questions that are so picky and hard that only God could answer them (on a good day ;-)) Nor are we looking for giveaway questions that someone could answer without ever having opened the book or done an assignment in this course. What we ARE looking for are fair questions that measure something that everybody who has given the course their fair attention should be able to answer. I hope you have noticed that I don't think much of asking you to memorize things just for the sake of memorizing them. Rather I ask you to take the ideas from the course material and apply them. That is what I hope you can do with your questions. I guarantee you that if you wait until the last minute and then try to pull random questions from the book that you will not do a good job on this assignment.
Pleasepay attention also to the 'wrong' answers in your multiple choice questions and make them semi-plausible (because if they are ridiculous the question is just a giveaway). Asking people to fill in the blank in a sentence you have taken from the book is not the kind of exam I would want to take. Asking people to list the 4 items blah-blah-blah is not a good question. Picking random picky facts from the book is not a good way to go either. These kinds of bad questions will NOT receive full credit. Asking people to use the material to demonstrate that they understand it is a good exam question, in my opinion.
I have tried to make assignments that were more interactive than the usual " summarize the chapter" assignments, and now it is your turn to try to make interesting, engaging exam questions. Under no circumstances should you ask any questions that require people to regurgitate from the textbook without necessarily even knowing what they are saying, questions such as, "List the four periods of Athenian democracy." However, you could do something like, "Please put these 4 periods in chronological order," or " In which of these periods did each of these persons live." The principle is that if you understand the material, then you can formulate questions that measure whether somebody else does. Don't ask me how I know this, but memorization without understanding is very stressful because you never know if you have memorized the right thing! It's also perfectly OK to use some humor to lighten the tone, but the humor should not be the main point or override the question.
I am fully aware from experience that when one tries to create these kinds of questions one occasionally creates questions that are ambiguous or unclear or don't measure what one thought they were going to measure. That's OK. Try anyway. You will not be penalized for trying. Nor will you be penalized for trying to design any kind of creative questions that you think would make for a fair exam. Please post your questions for 40 points in the A7, 25 Good Questions discussion. Please do not look at other people's questions until you have posted your own.
When you are truly ready for an exam you should be able to predict a high percentage (say 80% or more) of the questions just by knowing what if the important material and what makes a fair question. By doing this assignment, you will be doing the kind of preparation that should be done for a major exam in any serious college level course. Once you have done this kind of preparation the exam should not hold any surprises for you, which is the whole point, isn't it?
HUM 101W05, fall 2010, Literature and Cinema 20. Charles Foster Kane, the main character in Citizen Kane, was widely believed to be based on which real-life American millionaire? a. Joseph Pulitzer b. William Randolph Hearst c. John D. Rockefeller d. Conrad Hilton
21. What is generally considered to be the *world's* first true novel? a. Don Quixote, by Cervantes Saavedra b. The Tale of Genji, by Lady Murasaki c. The Aeneid, by Virgil d. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, by multiple authors 22. What is a long narrative poem telling the actions and adventures of a hero who exemplifies strength, courage, and cunning, but not necessarily moral virtue? a. Lyrical Poetry b. Poem c. Epic d. Sonnet 23. The story The Iliad was traditionally attributed to whom? a. Homer b. Solzhenitsyn c. Chekhov d. Sappho
24. Which war consisted of Greek soldiers hiding inside a wooden horse? a. Vietnam b. Korean c. French d. Trojan
25. “Justice for some defendants is the blind lady dropping her scales”, what would this quote be considered? a. Metaphor b. Sonnet c. Concept d. Masterpiece
26. When dealing with Cinema the appropriate term for camera is? a. Tracking shot b. Freeze Frames c. Polytheism d. Cinematography
27. The first international star that wore baggy trousers and shows that were too big for him was? a. Arthur Knight b. Fred Astaire c. Charles Chaplin d. Orson Welles
28. According to our book the movie When Harry Met Sally is considered a _________? a. Action Movie b. Comedy c. Romantic Comedy d. Western
29. ____________ who attains auteur status chooses the material, write the script, and have total control over the plot and characters. a. Script Writer b. Director c. Actor d. Actress
30. An extreme version of a hero who transcends regular human limitations and may be endowed with a supernatural special power. a. Sacrificial lamb b. Trojan Horse c. Superhero d. American Dream
SSM 201 W03, Twentieth Century geniuses, Fall 201 20. Harry S. Truman was our 33rd President; he took office after what President died? a. Franklin Roosevelt b. Herbert Hoover c. Calvin Coolidge d. William McKinley
21. Orson Wells directed and starred in what movie? a. Citizen Kane b. Casablanca c. Gone with the Wind d. Shotgun Willie
22. Immigration was more common in what country more so than any other country in the world combined, and is still true today? a. Europe b. China c. Russia d. United States
23. The largest occupation in the early 1900’s was? a. Factory workers b. Seamstresses c. Car makers d. Farmers 24. Who presided over the largest empire in history with 25% of the world’s land mass? a. White Dutch Settlers b. Queen Victoria c. President McKinley d. Adolph Hitler
25. With Women’s suffrage women did which of the following to help their rights? a. Chaining themselves to railings b. Throwing themselves in front of race horses c. Picketed government institutions d. Paraded down New York Ave. e. All of the Above
26.Barney Oldfield was known for accomplishing which of the following? a. Saving himself on the Titanic b. Published Alexander’s Rag Time Band c. First person to reach the North Pole d. Setting the land speed record
27. What did the 18th Amendment outlaw? a. The consumption, selling of or distribution of alcoholic beverages b. The consumption, selling of or distribution of comic books c. The consumption, selling of or distribution of tobacco d. The consumption, selling of or distribution of motion pictures
28. John Steinbeck was famous for writing which of the following books which was later turned into a film? a. The Grapes of Wrath b. The Dust Bowl c. Gold Diggers of 1933 d. I’m No Angel
29. Who became Prime Minister of Britain in the 1940’s and became a symbol of British Resistance? a. Winston Churchill b. Adolph Hitler c. Queen Victoria d. Francesco Madera 30. Which first lady went up in an airplane with a black man to show the world that they were capable of flying in our Armed Services? a. Mrs. Kennedy b. Mrs. Eisenhower c. Mrs. Franklin D Roosevelt d. Mrs. Howard Taft
PHL 105 Ethics, Fall 2010 20. Why was the final cause the most important to Aristotle? Page 437 *It allows us to view the purpose. It is the final product. Aristotle liked to eat muffins. It was the most natural cause.
21. According to Aristotle what is the purpose of man? Page 439 To be above the reasoning of women. *To think rationally throughout his life to develop moral goodness. To do what he wants when he wants. To be good at everything you do which makes you morally good.
22. What used to be considered murder? (What is a Person) Killing a person from another tribe. *Killing a person from your own tribe. Killing both a person from your own tribe and another tribe. All of the above.
23. Philosophically speaking a person’s view of reality is what we call: (Answer found on page 406) Plato’s theory of forms *metaphysics materialism irony
24. The four branches of Philosophy include: metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, and ______. Answer: page 15 Moral of the Story Reasoning *Logic Reality Contemplation
25. What is a Golem originally made of? Answer: page 77 Moral of the Story *Clay Straw Brick Wood
26. The unexamined life is worse than death. Who said this? Plato *Socrates Aristotle Phaedrus
27. What poison did Socrates take to die after his conviction? Answer: page 77 Moral of the Story Cyanide Arsenic *Hemlock None of the above
28. According to Aristotle, what is the purpose of humans? Answer: page 438 Moral of the Story To procreate *To reason To destroy To create
29. How does Aristotle define happiness? Answer: page 447 Moral of the Story Pleasure Indulgences Contentment *Anything good for man
30. Which of these three men said that women were equal to men? *Plato Socrates Aristotle None of the above