Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Exam post mortem

This week I marked the exams for the undergraduate course I helped teach this past semester. I usually find this a depressing exercise. It painfully reveals how little I have managed to teach students and how little they have learnt. Note, I consider the responsibility is joint.
The last three questions in the exam are from the condensed matter part of the course I teach. The students have seen the questions before, either in tutorial problems, assignments, or past exam papers. Yet they struggle to do them.

Some of the questions are meant to test not just knowledge but also general skills such as converting units, summarising results in a figure, and sketching curves. But, this is what I find particularly disappointing. Students still have trouble doing some of these things, even at second year university.

I think next time I teach the course I particularly need to keep hammering home that all physical quantities have units, and that you need to keep track of them in calculations. Furthermore, I want the tutors to take off marks on assignments when students don't properly keep track of units.

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