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Saturday, October 14. 2017
I don't know what to make of this guy. Why does he give exams from a test bank? Is this for real? What's your view?
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Good for him. Its about time some accountability is required of our children. Without it, the infants are runnng the institutions and no one benefits. I hope those kids were sweating.
Profs at my school who used old "koofers" as tests were supposedly told that was not permitted. We had an honor code but I don't recall ever being told that we were not permitted to study a prof's old tests, if they were available. Obviously we could not take old "koofers" into the classroom on test day. That was back when we got ditto sheets for tests that were frequently still warm from the machine. We had small desktops then and it was hard to find space for the ditto sheet, your worksheet, slide rule, and eraser. I even carried a small screwdriver in my pocket as once, early on, I dropped my slide rule and it became misaligned. D'oh!! The textbook business is now a racket. Sounds like the "test bank" is part of a complete text/teacher's text/exam package. (Why can't profs write their own exams, especially those one-course types?) Heck, today some undergrad engineering textbooks are $200-300. (I can only imagine what specialty book prices are in law/med school.) That's ridiculous, especially when the edition of the same book I used in a 1971 sophomore mechanics class was $14.50. And that was a combined statics/dynamics book, good for not just one, but two academic quarters.
Many of the textbook publishers will also (for a price) provide to faculty a variety of extra resources to make their preparation easier. Amongst this stuff is often a "test bank" of test questions that can be used either as-is or as models for your own test questions. Large lectures tend to evaluation by multiple-choice responses, because that is the most efficient way to give timely feedback, even if the deficiencies of that form of evaluation are well known.
In this case, it seems that the textbook publishers test bank was somehow illicitly acquired by someone who made it available for review by many people taking the course. It was a bank of 700 potential questions, of which 50 were actually on the test, but they were used verbatim by the prof when he "wrote" the exam.
What follows about what I think is heavily influenced by an experience early in my university faculty career. A colleague had a sudden emergency and I ended up being called upon to invigilate an exam that he had already written and had printed, to mark that exam, and to teach the lectures to the various sections of that course on the day that the exams were to be returned and reviewed with the students.
I found that there were a bunch of questions that had very few students getting the correct answer, and out of curiosity I went back to the test paper to look at what the question was - in each case I found the question to be unclear or ambiguous. Not being sure how to deal with this I queried the professor who wrote the test, who responded that the questions were perfectly clear to him and I should mark them as wrong if his expected response was not given.
I began to wonder if how I would know if wrong-answers on my own tests were a result of it being a badly worded question rather than lack of subject knowledge in the respondent. So the longer I teach, the more valuable I find my own accumulated bank of test questions that have proved to be good at discriminating the sharp &/or prepared students from the dimmer &/or unprepared ones, and those are always questions that a simple majority of people, but not 100%, get correct.
I've also found when I am one of several people teaching the same course in a semester, that reading the tests given by others who have taught the course is a far better way to know what the college intends the students to know than reading the syllabus. Course descriptions and syllabi for big multi-section courses seem to be deliberately vague in rapidly changing areas of technology.
So, while I've never used a publishers question bank, I can see the value of using it in having questions that are "tested" and found to be still good after 9 or 14 revisions of the textbook, and the value of student-evaluation that is consistent across time and across different lecturers.
I think the big issue here is one of evaluation -- is a correct answer to a test question really demonstrating that the student understands the material being taught? I read last night a Reddit mega-thread on how people have cheated on exams in school and uni, and a common theme was that the very act of compiling the information for a "cheat sheet" or other ruse lead to them memorizing and understanding it, obviating their need to cheat. In the example of the video, there were 13 potential test-questions memorized for each question that actually appeared on the test. Since the retest with completely new test questions resulted in the expected grade distribution, it seems that memorization of the answers to those 700 questions did not do much to educate the cheaters in this case.
I've always developed my lectures backwards: What do we want students to know at the end? How can we evaluate that students know that? How do we prepare students to do well on that evaluation. If the evaluation is not comprehensive enough, then memorization and cribbing can allow the students to do well, even though they aren't taking much that is useful away with them after the course.
IF this is "for real" (and, even though it's pretty old, it may well be) - assuming that he's still some sort of college "professor/teacher/lecturer" - then he's both a lazy-assed, piss-poor, fraudulent excuse for an "educator", AND a pox on both his profession, and his educational institution...
He works, of course, in the near-ultimate of "Soft-Sciences" - which more-or-less makes him a purveyor of nominally-marginal bulls**t to begin with; "Soft", his "area" definitely is - but "Science", by any proper definition of the term, it is NOT - it's a theoretical-bulls**tter's near-Paradise.
Regardless of his chosen "area", however - he is, by implication at least, demonstrating (at the very least) a rather-shocking lack of competency, and (probably) a large-scale waste of the claimed 20-to-21 years' tenure he stated.
There are a couple of quite-basic respects concerning education that he clearly exhibits little or no understanding of, or respect for:
First - Regardless of the level of education involved, if you make it relatively-easy to cheat - one way or another, some WILL cheat - and YOU should rightfully be held to be every bit as much to blame for that result, as they are; instead, you should assume, right up-front, that, if it's possible, some WILL cheat - and then proceed to set up the conduct of the coursework to make it as nearly-impossible to cheat as you can, even if (by doing so) you are caused to put considerable extra effort(s) into your course preparation, your conduct of the coursework and/or your evaluation of your students' efforts. Failure to do so makes cheating/attempted-cheating a) inevitable and near-unavoidable, and b) (again) at least as much your fault as the cheaters' own fault.
As the One In Charge, you own the results, to a very great, real-World extent, regardless of how it goes...
Second - Composing and/or running tests or exams directly from a "test bank" is - by default - creating open-opportunities for cheating...it is a lazy-assed, deeply-fraudulent, pi**-poor way of doing the educator's job of work, in that it a) heavily-promotes "teaching (to) the test/exam", which is nearly-always a bad way to operate, and b) it automatically opens-up a near-"Golden" Pathway for cheating, since it deeply-compromises the security of the test/exam content - affording a relatively-quite-easy "end-run" for anyone and everyone who mounts any sort of even-moderate effort at cheating. This is the exact-opposite of what a good, competent, teaching-professional should be doing - it is, in essence, stealing your paycheck, by being lazy-assed-incompetent at your job...this is especially and profoundly so in the entire area of "Soft Sciences", so-called, even more so than in any area of actual "Sciences" (i.e., that which is often referred to as "Hard Sciences").
That whole "lecture" he delivered is nothing more - nor less - than a load of "Covering-His-Own-Ass", after-the-fact bullsh** - he screwed-up, badly AND (apparently) repeatedly...and he was scrambling to try to effect some measure of "recovery", while punishing his own students - both the actual cheaters, and the innocent as well - for his own laziness and nominal partial-incompetence.
I speak as one who was, once upon a time for nearly two decades, a secondary- and college-level educator/part-time administrator - and one who left the profession in large part due to disgust with having to associate with half-or-less-competent putzes like this guy, and with some of the pro-forma administrative jerk-offs who aided-and-abetted their sloppy, half-assed lack of competency...
Bridges is right. Yes, as college profs we have access to test banks. In the internet age, everything is for sale somewhere, so you HAVE to expect that students will have access to your testbank.
For that reason, the majority of my exam and quiz questions are my own.
If the prof in this video is mad that students had access to the testbank, then he is a fool.
Teach the material. Test the material. Be fair.
It isn't rocket science.
Exactly. I'm not saying the cheating isn't wrong BUT, he states that it's been the same exam for 5 years, then later states that, him and his staff will write a new exam in one week and a new final in short order not using the bank. Um sloth is every bit a sin as theft(cheating).
I improved my PChem grade second semester by various means- one of which was going over the Prof's old exams- which the Prof had placed in the Library Reserve Room. He made his own exams- a new one every year.
The same exam for 5 years- that's rather lazy.
I heard tell of how a cheater in a pre-Med course got caught. Basically, the prof and TAs figured out this guy was cheating, and where he was stealing the exams. IIRC, they figured out he had acquired a key to one of the labs where an exam answer sheet was being kept. So, the prof left a doctored answer sheet at the place where the student was suspected of stealing it- questions which didn't appear on the real exam. Lo and behold, the student's answers corresponded to the doctored answer sheet.
One less successful applicant to medical school.
It was seven years ago. What was the outcome?
I think it's poor form to use a test bank as a wholesale resource for test questions, although I could see maybe using it for ideas if I were preparing a test.
I also think the instructor is out of place trying to scare the students into accepting a plea bargain, it's bluffing and a bluff is not the same thing as evidential proof. Unless the investigators were subsequently able to unearth email trails within the University's server, I doubt very much that a case could be made out of a statistical distribution - not when a paying student's future is on the line, and not when the accusation could so easily be argued. Those are treacherous waters for a Provost.
I can see why he was boiling mad though. It's a particular form of youthful contempt to cheat so brazenly.
Should have looked it up first:
UCF cheating scandal: 200 students step forward
November 12, 2010|By Denise-Marie Balona, Orlando Sentinel
About 200 students at the University of Central Florida have come forward to admit their involvement in a cheating scandal that has drawn national attention, college officials announced Friday evening.
This represents roughly one-third of the nearly 600 students who had to retake a mid-term this week for a senior-level business course after an instructor was tipped off to cheating.......
I recall fraternities often kept archives of old exams for common courses. Which faculty reacted to by trying to prevent copies of exams from leaving the exam location.
Nevertheless, exams that duplicate previous year's exams is a lazy way to evaluate students. Using test banks by educators should be prohibited and grounds for loss of tenure or cancellation of employment contract. It's cookie-cutter education: students should demand a tuition refund.
If students use old exams to study, I don't see that as "cheating." They are taking an intelligent path to cover the material as best they can. Lazy educators create loopholes. You can't blame the students for using loopholes and weaknesses.
This is fully the fault and responsibility of the professor.
Further, he's using statistical data to try and assign guilt. Highly imperfect. And just as likely a result of a poorly designed exam.
And more - with the hi-tech testing center with casino-style overhead cameras, the automated-generation of individual tests from a 700-question test bank, the center's software alerting the administration of the "cheating" without the instructor's involvement, I think between the administrations demands on this guy and the students taking advantage he was between a rock and a hard place at the time this video was recorded:
When I was a professor I allowed my students in introductory courses (those that require learning a lot of new vocabulary) to prepare a 3x5 notecard to use during the first two semester exams. The only requirements--handwritten and turned in with the exam. I often discovered that the correct answers to questions they missed were written on their notecards.
The goal of learning (and hence teaching) is to change behavior. By behavior, I don't necessarily mean cheating versus not cheating. If, at the beginning of the semester, you think 1+1=3 and at the end, you understand that 1+1=2, that's a change in behavior.
Many students use old tests and sample tests as a study tool. Indeed, evidence shows that repeatedly challenging oneself on the material is one of the best ways to learn, i.e. using flashcards with the answers on the back as opposed to on the front results in better learning.
That said, the students could have legitimately used a test bank of 700 questions - that number probably sufficiently covers the material from their book with redundancy that permits repetition - to aid in learning the material.
Of course, the unfortunate alternative is that some of the students care less about learning the material and more about the grade. This latter fact is evidenced at some of the Ivy League schools, e.g. Harvard, where a gentleman's A is the norm (grade inflation) and at least one study shows that the education does little to change the student's behavior - at least in terms of understanding the subject being taught. The change in the student's behavior in terms of adopting a leftist agenda is another matter and appears to be the primary goal at most universities (particularly in the humanities).
As to the issue of the prof using a canned test, I recognize that he may have a large class and that it's more convenient (easier) to use a canned multiple choice test rather than create your own test or use open ended responses......but it's also lazier and (as he mentioned) he has a handful of TAs. In essence, he's accusing the students of the same "sin" that he's guilty of - taking a shortcut.
It was in 2010. And he's from an even earlier age. It's possible that you can get expelled for cheating in 2010 but I bet it's pretty hard today.
The deal was too good to take the risk imo. A four hour ethics course and no further punishment except having him pissed off at you.
They would not have been sure if he didn't have more than the test results. Perhaps evidence the data had been sent to you.
In my day we used to use previous years tests as practise.