Friday, December 12, 2008

Many of the exams in the Catalan High Schools and Universities give students marks for correct answers, but also deduct marks for incorrect answers.

Think about that for a moment while I hyperventilate with rage and frustration over here.



The single best tool I have ever seen for stifling effort, innovation and a willingness to take a risk.

Is there a reason educators would want to do this in a post-Franco country?

Do we have even the foggiest notion what the world our children are inheriting will be like? Really, consider the changes we have seen in only the last 20 years?

Do you think robotic regurgitation of fact from short term memory coupled with a fear of risk and imagination is going to work for them?


It also makes me sad to hear the number of really bright students I talk to who NEVER read; who hate reading.

I find it hard to articulate why if find that so sad. But honestly, that is the only word I can use.



kate said...

Long-winded comment alert!

In my university the grading system and exam format depend on the instructor, but since there are so many students in the class a lot of them use multiple choice for much or all of the exam. On the multiple choice parts there are different ways to grade but a lot of instructors take off part of a point if you get it wrong (the way this was explained to me is that it is based in statistics and prevents people from just guessing away blindly without any penalty, though if you can eliminate some of the choices your odds go up and it becomes worthwhile to guess. Whatever.)

Of course the other issue is how effective multiple choice tests are. Usually the exam only makes up part of the grade and you have been doing assignments all along that are graded and balance out the picture. But just multiple choice is a pretty lousy way to measure what someone knows, IMHO.

In the short answer and essay portions most of the time they don't penalize for wrong information, you just don't get full credit. But again, that can vary.

On the other hand, a passing grade is usually just 50%, meaning that you can pass without mastering half the material (when I was growing up it was always 65%.) I've found that here people-- certainly at the university level--seem to be mostly concerned with passing, not so much with the actual grade.

On the positive side, everything we are learning in "teacher school" is based on significant, active learning, global assessment, etc etc. However, I think in most places the practice has yet to catch up with the theory...

As far as reading, I agree. Sad. I think, from what I've been reading, that it is a general trend for teens, though I don't know about the particularly bright ones.

oreneta said...

I am heartened to hear about what you are learning at teacher school. What age level are you training to work with. I am not even going to get started on the limitations of filling in the bubble as an assessment of knowledge. My blood pressure won't take it.

Thank you for the long winded answer, I find the dialogue with you about the schools here absolutely fascinating.

The reading thing is really sad. I also find it sad that in the Spanish and Catalan language courses, the high school kids are mostly reading English language books in translation. One of them just did a presentation on the romantic poets for goodness sake.

I will admit that brilliant Catalan writers would probably be scarce enough to make it tough to fill a syllabus, but Spanish???!?!?!?!


They had never even heard of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Never heard of the man.

kate said...

I'm training to teach primary school 8up to age 12 or so.)

I can't believe that about reading books in translation. Wow. I mean, some is good, but there is so much out there in the original language in Spanish, as you say...