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Wednesday, August 28. 2013
I suppose it would be like a post-college SAT, including specialized AP or achievement-like sections. It would doubtless help employers weed out the bullshitters - but many jobs are perfect for good bullshitters (see Animal House).
It doesn't seem like a radical concept to me. Anyone who applies to grad school takes some sort of post-college exam to evaluate knowledge and skills acquired, and mental fitness for the task. Many jobs require both an interview and an exam designed by HR. The simplest example is (was) the typing speed and accuracy tests for secretaries, in the good old days. My first post-college, post-military job required that I take an IQ test. I guess I passed it. The military got me used to test-taking.
Here are two recent posts on the topic:
As we have preached before, life itself is one exam after another, one test after another of what we have going for us and of our ability to stretch our strengths and to exercise our frailties. The ultimate exam can not be scored by a machine. It's not even our credit rating. The ultimate exam measures how near we get to achieving our goals in life, whatever goals we choose.
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I dunno sounds "racist" to me!
You just know all those "affirmative action" scholars who were admitted to institutions of higher learning for but a single reason, will disproprtionately fail such exams........
I went to grad school w/o taking any post-college exam.
In fact, it was a big driver in my selection of grad school, b/c they didn't require the GREs. I couldn't afford to take them while in college, and figured I'd have to put it off. When one school didn't require them (they strongly recommended them) I jumped on the chance.
I was pretty cynical about the for-profit testing services, and how useful they really were.
Now I'm pretty cynical about college-for-everyone, indoctrination in lieu of education and grade inflation.
It depends. For my Physical Chemistry class, our final exam was some standardized multiple choice test which was in effect, a national exit exam. My score was consistent with how my test scores had trended, so I considered it a valid test.
One problem I see with such an exam is about what does it test? Is it some sort of general knowledge test, or is it specific to major?
For myself, I would probably be in favor of such test, as my standardized test scores have been better than my grades.
One bad point about such a test: it takes autonomy away from a professor.
One good point about such a test: it would discourage the "give as many people a good grade as possible" mentality which seems to pervade our campuses these days.
I was twice given IQ tests in the course of my applying for employment. In both cases, they declined to hire me because I scored too high.
When I was in engineering college the professors wanted everybody to take the Engineer In Training (EIT) test their senior year. This test was required to become a registered professional engineer. You would take this test first and then 5 years later you could take the professional engineer test. The EIT test was eight hours long and tested you on math, physics, chemistry, and engineering, everything you were supposed to have learned in engineering college. We joked that if you didn't pass the EIT the school wouldn't graduate you. It was in effect an assessment exam.
Rather than one comprehensive exam, they should follow the maritime licensing exam system as an example. A series of exams on different aspects. Not all required to be taken at once. Then you could take the general ed exam, the math exam (perhaps tiered), etc.
However, we should be suspect if it becomes just another multiple-choice test like the SAT. Seth Godin said this about the multiple choice testing in his treatise on education:
In 1914, a professor in Kansas invented the multiple-choice test. Yes, it’s less than a hundred years old.
There was an emergency on. World War I was ramping up, hundreds of thousands of new immigrants needed to be processed and educated, and factories were hungry for workers. The government had just made two years of high
school mandatory, and we needed a temporary, high-efficiency way to sort students and quickly assign them to appropriate slots.
In the words of Professor Kelly, “This is a test of lower order thinking for the lower orders.”
A few years later, as President of the University of Idaho, Kelly disowned the idea, pointing out that it was an appropriate method to test only a tiny portion of what is actually taught and should be abandoned. The industrialists and the mass educators revolted and he was fired.
The SAT, the single most important filtering device used to measure the effect of school on each individual, is based (almost without change) on Kelly’s lower-order thinking test. Still.
The reason is simple. Not because it works. No, we do it because it’s the easy and efficient way to keep the mass production of students moving forward.
We should organize a celebration of the "lower-order testing for the lower orders" next year
And don't forget those various postings of 8th grade tests from that time frame that we've seen on the web.
I like the concept, but it's the implementation (long term) that concerns me. Maybe I'm too cynical, but I wonder how long it will take for this test to become ideologically influenced by the left. To wit:
Question 1. Why was the recession of 2008 - 20?? so prolonged?
a) George Bush's wars
b) George Bush's tax cuts
c) The Republicans in the House voted down Obama's solutions
Well, does anyone really care if someone has "competency" in political science, history, ??-studies, philosophy, literary indulgence, etc.
The testing should cover useful skills. Math, engineering, physics, chemistry, composition, etc?
Perhaps some testing of abstract thinking, the much benighted "critical thinking"?
So by the same token people could take the test and if they score well be "awarded" a BS degree without attending college. If not then what value is the test?
Exactly what I was thinking. Make it like a college equivalent of the GED.
After WWII, some universities did that. A few of my relatives and their fellow military who were drafted at age 18 graduated from the U. of Chicago within 16 - 20 months before going on to graduate/law school.
Isn't this what the French and British already do?
Dear Ray, now it's the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination (FE), and until I retired we still encouraged students to take it. Because engineers working for industry do not need the Professional Engineer's license, most students taking the FE are civils.