Thursday, July 23, 2009

They can't blame me

Last day tomorrow. Hooray! I will be giving tests. It is test week, and for one department in one university I have to give tests in the test period. Since I am teaching oral English, and the test period is fifty minutes, and I cannot give speaking tests to thirty-odd students in fifty minutes, I will be giving paper tests with an element of listening. For one class, which is very small (only fourteen students, and they were a joy) I had a test written that was far too short, so I told them in the last week of classes that I wanted them to write a test question each, to make it longer. It took a while for them to understand that I wanted them to write their own test questions, to which they would (of course) know the answers. They thought this was very odd indeed. I told them the test was only ten percent of their final grade, and they could use their test questions to test themselves on something they really wanted to remember.

I also told them to make sure they told the other students what their question was, and their answer, so that everybody could get 100%.

They seemed to think this whole thing was a bit funny.

I used the time when they were writing their test questions to mark some assignments, and noticed, out the corner of my eye, that they were not taking it very seriously. They wrote their questions quickly, then gossiped amongst themselves happily. I pretended to think they were discussing their test questions, and carried on with my marking.

Towards the end of class I collected their questions, corrected them (there were some mistakes), and told them the corrections. They were packing up to leave when I asked them,

"Did you remember to tell each other your test questions?"

They looked at each other furtively.

"Er, yes?" they said, and a more honest student added, "Mostly."

"Good!" I said.

When I typed up the test questions I realized that some of the students had written quite difficult ones. They were the sort that are easy to write but less easy to answer. Chuckling evilly to myself I wrote, at the top of that section of the test:

"YOUR QUESTIONS. (Have fun getting 100% for this part because you know all the answers.)"

It will be interesting to see how they do, but I suspect it might be a good thing the test is only worth ten percent of their final grade!


Michael Havers said...

I know what you mean about the students not taking things very seriously. It happens to me all the time. Even though I ask the Japanese teacher, who works with me to confirm that they have understood, they still under-prepare for tests no-matter how important they are. Then, to top it all off they blame me when they get bad grades and have to come back for extra make up classes during summer vacation. You can't win!

Badaunt said...

And isn't this ODD? I mean, everywhere you look in the media you read about how hard Japanese students study, and how stressful it is for them, and blah blah blah. And then when you're actually TEACHING them, you discover that it's all a load of old cobblers. Most of my students don't study at all, and are indignant if you give them homework. In fact, I had two students in one class complain bitterly - on the official evaluation forms, which are used to evaluate my teaching - that I gave too much homework. As it happened, in that particular class I had given no homework at all, due to, er, an organizational error. (I forgot.)

Where ARE these mythical students who study too hard? How come they never turn up in my classes?