Finals Day

That blank look of thought of a certain kind
By Paul Louis Martin des Amoignes (1858–1925) (Bonhams) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Today was finals day.

It’s work to make a test. It ought to reflect the course content, be balanced across the major topics and themes; it ought to steer a middle way between being too detailed and focused on minutiae and being too abstract and general; it ought to require some thought, but it needs to offer something for the students who struggle with thought, but who have learned some of the material nevertheless. It needs to be clear, to avoid ambiguity that causes the students to overthink the questions and to give wrong answers because of their interpretation of the question rather than because of their understanding of the course material. It should be about the right level of difficulty, which would imply a person can gauge the level of difficulty, and know what will work for these students. Maybe that’s possible, maybe we only think it’s possible; maybe we get that right, or else we don’t. It’s work to make a test.

Today’s, I thought, was pretty good; and I got to bed at an almost decent hour, too. But I haven’t graded it yet. My thinking could change.

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