Tall, Dark, and Mysterious

4/16/2005

But in a way, everyone loses.

File under: Those Who Can't. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 4:17 pm.

That was painful, but now it’s over and we never have to think of it again.

In first place is Dr. Matt, with a whopping twenty squares. The squares he didn’t get, were largely for reasons such as “students all have fraction-doing calculators anyway and even if they can’t add them it’s possible that such a thing won’t come up”, and “I gave them the axes so they didn’t have to draw any, let alone label them.”

In a distant second is Meep, who also made bingo with thirteen squares. Meep had a lot of close matches: for instance, none of my students “forgot to add both sides when completing the square” so much as they just plain “forgot to complete the square.” And although none of my students derived a fractional answer for area, which they claimed couldn’t be possible, around half claimed that the polynomial f(x)=x^3+5x^2+x-2 had no zeroes in the interval (-5,1), just because they were able to figure out that it had no rational ones. It’s almost as though we didn’t spend two weeks on approximating irrational zeroes of polynomials. (Seven students claimed that it had one zero - the one halfway between -1 and 1. For this insight I added an additional zero to their papers.)

In close third is Moses, with eleven squares. Moses, alas, overestimated my students with predictions such as “Student derives trivial equation, gets confused “. Moses, my naïve friend - the half-dozen-odd students of mine who derived the trivial equation didn’t get confused in the least. They just concluded that x=0 or somesuch, and moved right along.

Bringing up the rear is James, with a measly four squares. I must say, though, I’m surprised that none of my students asked me how to do the exam questions during the exam period. I have trained them well.

* * *

Despite this, the exam wasn’t quite the bloodbath I’d anticipated: average was a pass, failure rate was only 40% for the exam, and a bit over 20% for the course after I applied a small linear scaling that bumped up three high F’s to D’s. Almost half the class got B-’s and above. But the bad papers…Lord Almighty, were they bad. I don’t have a scanner handy, but later I’m going to see if I can get some decent quality photgraphs of one exam that earned a grade of three (3) percent. It wasn’t mostly blank, either.