This article about student expectations in the NYT combined with my observations of students taking tests today spur me to mention the following:
- Students now expect tests to be open-book/open-note. They seem to think that's the default mode, so that on the day of the test they are surprised that they can't use their notes. When did the default mode change? Should I start calling my tests "closed notes" to prevent this?
- I always tell my students how many questions and what type of questions (multiple choice, problems, essay, etc...) will be on each test. I announce it the week before the test, immediately before handing out the test, and keep the format the same throughout the semester. That withstanding, students still fail to complete the last questions if they are printed on the back side of the last page. I find this odd. Not only have they not completed the stated number of questions, but why NOT flip the page when all of the other pages have been double-sided? Shouldn't they look on the back just to make sure? I now try to remember to announce that questions are printed on the back (when they are), but I forgot in one of my sections today and had to send about 30% of the students back to their desks to finish the test.
- Because of the aforementioned difficulties on the last pages of tests, I have the students turn in the tests face-down. In a couple of cases, when I pointed out that the page was blank, the students told me that they didn't answer the questions because they missed the appropriate days of class. In fact one student, in an almost accusatory tone, responded, "You know I wasn't in class that day." And that excuses the students from learning the material how? I even post my course notes on the website!
Sometimes I feel like I work harder on these tests than they do!