As you might have guessed, the reason I’ve not updated this blog much is that I have had exams going on. Thankfully, they are over now. They went quite well, but as I usually do at this time, I wonder whether its the right method of testing.
In one exam in particular, I felt that us having to learn formulae of by heart was not effective, as this would never be how we use them. Anything like that which requires precision is never going to be carried out by just your memory, and this is what I reasoned to the unit lecturer. I always feel that those with poor memory skills must suffer immensely, and feel it is unfair for so much to rely on regurgitating all the material taught over a term in two weeks or less. On the other hand, to ensure that people understand, you have to make sure they aren’t just getting the answer from somewhere else.
Another of my lecturers has a very sensible and good exam technique, the traditional mathematical model. State this thing for a few marks, apply it for more, explain for even more and finally what do you think about this completely new concept I’ve not covered in lectures. He also tries to make sure that although the course involves lot of mathematics, it is not on maths, so there will be one question without any mathematical skills needed.
This I think is a rather excellent model, but is not always easy to apply. In maths it is often hard to get people to come up with new ideas, as it is unreasonable for students to come up with such theories in exams when professionals in the field have been trying for years. I therefore think that such things should be tested by coursework application, and then an exam on the reason and explanation behind things. For this I do not mean learning proof that other people have come up with, but using english words, reword what you have been taught.
However, I hate coursework, and do better in exams, so will never actually complain too much.