So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with college?)

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mprime
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So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with college?)

Postby mprime » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:33 am UTC

I'm tired of these so called 'weed out' courses. Every goddamn course I take is designed to "weed out" people who "aren't serious." Now, at some schools, a weed out course is designed to be intellectually challenging. It's designed to introduce new and difficult concepts, with the hope of giving the people new to the field a "trial by fire", so to speak, so they can learn whether or not they're serious about their choice of major. So right now, you're probably thinking that I'm an academically-challenged whiner who feels the need to rant to save my precious, overinflated ego, and that this whole post is going to devolve into me typing "IT'S NOT FAIR, I DON'T WANT TO LEARN!"

I wish that were the case.

Instead, my school's idea of a difficult course is to haphazardly waltz through a huge amount of material, never stopping to actually go in depth and discuss things. The tests mostly consist of all of this material boiled down into questions which require nothing but rote memorization. For example, the only proofs done in my calculus class were those that we had to memorize (!) from the book. Every test in upper-level mathematics strips away anything new or difficult and instead comes down to mindless symbol pushing. When they want to get really tricky, they'll pull some stunt like marking off points until you visit their office, and then deciding later that you've made a "good effort" and giving you an A. I actually had one class that would randomly change due dates around with no explanation. When I asked for a concrete syllabus, the teacher replied with "That'd be nice, wouldn't it?"

In a nut shell, my school rewards those who frantically need to 'memorize' things for a test, while punishing anyone who prefers tests that measure analytical ability and/or want to know what the hell they're doing. But Suzie Q. Biology Major the sorority girl does great on all the tests, because she just has to memorize things, and that's easy!

I should have taken out a few students loans and attended one of the nicer schools I got accepted to. Instead I took a full ride to a state school, and this is what I get in return.

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby achan1058 » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:47 am UTC

Actually, if you ended up memorizing more than a few pages for any math course, you are probably doing it wrong, no matter what math course it is, maybe with the exception of History of Mathematics.

Maybe giving a much more concrete example of the "massive amount of stuff" you need to memorize would give us a better idea of whether it is your fault, or the school's. Otherwise, I am very biased towards to think that you are memorizing more than you need to, since that's how it is with 90% of the students.

As for pushing due dates around, I have no problems with it, since it is always push later and later. (they don't dare to push it earlier, since it would mean complaints from students to the department or faculty)

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby mprime » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:54 am UTC

achan1058 wrote:Actually, if you ended up memorizing more than a few pages for any math course, you are doing it wrong, no matter what math course it is, maybe with the exception of History of Mathematics.


Let me put it this way:

If I studied the way they wanted me to, learned at the pace they set, and did assignments how they tell me to, that's exactly what I would be doing. There's no "doing it wrong" about it. It's how the course is set up. Plug-and-chug, as they say.

That being said, I self-study a lot, so I don't really have to do that. It still pisses me off that the tuition I don't have to pay for goes towards paying the salary of a glorified babysitter.

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby achan1058 » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:59 am UTC

As I have said above, mind giving some concrete examples? Handwaving does not constitute as a proof when I grade papers. Proof by example, while not much better than proof by handwaving, does at least have some basis, especially if the example is generic enough. :wink:

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby mprime » Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:14 am UTC

We had a test, which had some questions on Taylor series. Except, the test was on which of the more famous Taylor series we had memorized (e^x, sin(x), etc) rather than anything interesting about idea of a Taylor series itself.

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby BlackSails » Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:02 am UTC

Its just as important to be able to generate taylor series as it is to prove things about them. Even more so if you are a physicist.

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby achan1058 » Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:22 am UTC

mprime wrote:We had a test, which had some questions on Taylor series. Except, the test was on which of the more famous Taylor series we had memorized (e^x, sin(x), etc) rather than anything interesting about idea of a Taylor series itself.
It looks like a typical question, and you can easily answer all of it by deriving the Taylor series from definition. Granted, you still need to memorize the definition, but the definition makes enough sense that it shouldn't be too difficult. Anyways, what do you mean by this last statement? A Putnam style proof question on Taylor series which about 1/200 of the class would be able to answer?

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby mmmcannibalism » Wed Mar 10, 2010 12:12 pm UTC

mprime wrote:We had a test, which had some questions on Taylor series. Except, the test was on which of the more famous Taylor series we had memorized (e^x, sin(x), etc) rather than anything interesting about idea of a Taylor series itself.


That just means memorizing is/was a good idea; its not like you couldn't develop the series for whatever you needed.
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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby Mokele » Wed Mar 10, 2010 3:09 pm UTC

How big are these classes? Speaking as someone who's TA'ed for "weed-out courses" and higher-level courses, It's simply not possible to ask in-depth exam questions when you have a class of 200-800 students. Even 50 is pushing it. The only class I've ever seen to unite in-depth questions with large class size actually consumed more than half the TAs in the entire department - obviously not always feasible.


Also, what major is this? Some majors (biology) require lots of memorization simply because that's the way life works, and if you don't know the facts, you can't understand the principles that emerge from them.
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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby achan1058 » Wed Mar 10, 2010 4:13 pm UTC

Mokele wrote:How big are these classes? Speaking as someone who's TA'ed for "weed-out courses" and higher-level courses, It's simply not possible to ask in-depth exam questions when you have a class of 200-800 students. Even 50 is pushing it. The only class I've ever seen to unite in-depth questions with large class size actually consumed more than half the TAs in the entire department - obviously not always feasible.
My experience is rather different. Proof questions are usually the easiest to grade on low levers. It's usually 90% of the students getting 0.

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby Jorpho » Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:19 pm UTC

Hanlon's Razor.

It is quite possible that the people involved are genuinely mistaken about how the course should be taught and that it will undergo massive restructuring shortly after you are done with it, once enough students have expressed their dissatisfaction.

In fact, it is quite possible this has already happened...

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby Mokele » Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:26 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:It is quite possible that the people involved are genuinely mistaken about how the course should be taught and that it will undergo massive restructuring shortly after you are done with it, once enough students have expressed their dissatisfaction.


It's also very possible that *nobody* wants to teach the huge weed-out courses, so they get dumped on the least-liked and least-capable prof.

Or that the prof could do a better job, but is overworked, lacks sufficient departmental support (TAs, lab funds, etc.), or simply inherited it (lesson plans and all) from a prior shitty teacher.
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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:50 pm UTC

Well, from my experience, introductory math courses are very light on the proofs and heavy on the applications. This isn't a problem with your school specifically per se, but more a general way in which courses are structured: introductory courses are often necessary prerequisites for a broad range of subjects that may have little to do with the department that's offering it, and it is better to design the course to appeal to the maximum number of students who take it. A first year calculus course is probably going to be taken by practically everyone in your science department and a good portion of the social sciences as well. Of the people taking it, math majors might constitute 5% of the class. Do most of the people there need to know how to prove mathematical concepts from first principles? Probably not. Do they need to know how to find the area under a curve or calculate the slope of a tangent? Some of them, yes. Now, you might say, "well, they still should be able to use formal logic to prove things regardless, since that's important for everyone." But why does this have to be done in a mathematics course? If this is your goal, why not just make a course in formal logic a required course instead? That way they get logic and proof introduced rigorously, and can see how it applies to different forms of argumentation, of which mathematics is only one.

Given that math majors have the opportunity to revisit all of the formal proofs for these concepts in agonizing detail once they start taking classes in analysis, it hardly seems necessary to burden poor Suzie Q. with having to prove dozens of things that she will never use, never remember, and never appreciate, especially if it comes at the expense of concepts that will be useful for her to know.

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Thu Mar 11, 2010 6:52 am UTC

I have a physics prof who firmly believes that calculus physics should make the students use calculus. Now that is all find and dandy; however, the prereq for the course is calc 1. I'd completed calc 3 by the time I was in his class, so I could handle all the vectors (there weren't too many) easily. However, for a student in calc 2 having double integrals and multiple variable thrown at them (it would later be simplified into something they'd memorize and understand), I could see how that would be a weed-out course for science majors. Personally, I like the class, but I can certainly understand why people have an issue with his teaching style, especially since he doesn't use the textbook the other prof uses.
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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby Ixtellor » Thu Mar 11, 2010 4:56 pm UTC

There are a few semi-legit reasons why they may be 'weeding you out':

1) It eliminates those who are not going to be serious students later on. They don't want to have a department full of half-assed students, especially when the material is difficult and there is a lot of it. (See Mechanical Engineering)

I try to warn many of my slacker students of this. That yes they may be able to fake their way through a year or two of college, but its going to catch up with you and if something doesnt' change in the approach to their studies they won't finish. (50% drop out rate in college)

2) It proves you can be assigned a task and can be counted on to complete it.
Many college degrees are in fact worthless and they teach you nothing about how to actually do a job. What it does prove is that you can follow directions, set a goal, finish what you start, and you have a level of intelligence high enough to complete higher order tasks.

Its why many professions will take a person with a degree in Basket Weaving over a person who only completed High Schools. Its not the basket weaving skills they covet, its the commitment, intelligence, and perseverance they are looking for.
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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby mprime » Thu Mar 11, 2010 5:13 pm UTC

None of you are helping. I guess I didn't articulate what I was having a problem with very well, so I give up.

2) It proves you can be assigned a task and can be counted on to complete it.


In other words, meat for the beast.

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby Chen » Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:50 pm UTC

mprime wrote:In a nut shell, my school rewards those who frantically need to 'memorize' things for a test, while punishing anyone who prefers tests that measure analytical ability and/or want to know what the hell they're doing. But Suzie Q. Biology Major the sorority girl does great on all the tests, because she just has to memorize things, and that's easy!


Well I can see how memorization may be rewarded, but how are they punishing you if you solve things via a different method? Like in your Taylor series example, how would you be punished if you derived it from the definition instead of just plunking it down from memory? I mean even if memorizing it I can't imagine they'd just accept the answer. You'd need to show SOME sort. Seems to be that if you understood the derivation you'd have a much better chance at putting it down properly rather than memorizing it and forgetting a step or something and getting it completely wrong.

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby achan1058 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:06 pm UTC

mprime wrote:None of you are helping. I guess I didn't articulate what I was having a problem with very well, so I give up.
If you are expecting us to simply agree with you and start insulting profs/schools, you are in the wrong forum. Many of the people here are TA's or even profs. You never stated what really is your problem, nor what you really expect. We have made some guesses, and showed you why some of those things won't work. Instead of ranting, give more details. In particular, my own question is very specific, are you expecting involved/difficult proof questions, for a low lvl course?

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby lunchbox12682 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:18 pm UTC

All I know is that having multiple choice exams, where each question has 10 answers and if you make a mistake anywhere solving the problem will likely get you one of those answers, is a true sign of evil in academia.
Physics 152 can goto hell.
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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby KestrelLowing » Thu Apr 01, 2010 1:54 pm UTC

I go to Michigan Tech, a primarily engineering and science school, and weed-out courses are very prevalent - chemistry, physics, calc. Basically, Tech isn't all that selective about the student body (I think the acceptance rate is about 75% now, but used to be much higher) so the only way that they make sure the students are of caliber is to have the 'weed-out courses'.

The greatest misconception I've seen is that classes get easier after the weed-out courses. Guess what - THEY DON'T! That's the whole point of them - to make certain you are able to handle the later material. It is actually a good thing, if you get a year into schooling and realize that you want to change majors then, it's much better than getting 2 years in and wasting probably at least a year of classes and tuition.

There are also weed-out classes specifically for majors as well, so beware of that. Statics is a relatively easy subject, but some see it as a weed-out course for the mechanicals at Tech as it's the first actual mechanical class you'll take. Organic Chem also comes to mind, although that might just be because it is really hard.

Weed out classes are actually beneficial. Don't diss them completely. I know you're not going to like this, but maybe you should consider a different major more attuned to your strengths, or you just need to realize that college is hard, and you're going to have to work hard and memorize tons of stuff, even if you never had to lift a finger in high school.

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby TomLikesGuitar » Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:27 pm UTC

I don't really care much about "weed out" courses (However, this is still on topic because the OP's title includes another question which has always been on my mind "Why bother with college?"). I'm about 3 years into a Game Development major and all I know is that I am getting pretty damn good with the programs that I went to school to learn. But I also know that both of the schools I have attended (Virginia Tech first, now wrapping up at the local County College because I had too much fun at the former) try extremely hard to make things difficult for students. I work my ass off to make money to pay for an education, and God forbid I miss a few classes due to having an extremely busy/hectic lifestyle. However, college teachers don't care about any of that, and in my experience most will fail you after about 8 absences even though your money has already been taken. That might seem like a lot, but some of us with crazy families and not a whole lot of money (for fixing broken cars and/or public transportation, which I would have to pay out the ass for to bring in from out of town) still want to learn.

I digress though, as my real problem is with the whole idea of core curriculum and the predestined curricula for each major. What I would like to ask all of the professors and teachers here is:

Why the hell do I have to read Shakespeare when his works are no longer culturally relevant, each of his literary and artistic techniques has been done better, I really just dislike the way that he writes, and I will not be utilizing any of his works in getting a degree? I think all students should have to read Bob Dylan songs and talk about why "All Along the Watchtower" is only half a story but still says more than any single Shakespeare play (plus Jimi Hendrix plays it sometimes!!).

Why am I required to take English at all in college? I have already been through like 15 years of hearing what some English teacher thinks is a good book, I don't care anymore. I'm smart enough to read my own damn books, and to find meaning in them as I see fit. I don't care what some teacher thinks, especially when dealing with storytelling. Storytelling is an art, and art is all about interpretation. College English is nothing more than an over-glorified art class with one or two important essays to write about something the student does not care about. I've taken 2 English 101 courses, a communications course, and an English 102 course and have only passed 2 of them because I have disagreed with the teacher and they didn't like me (The English ones, communications was barely even a class and I just failed because I didn't go to class enough freshman year... like most people haha). I thought we were supposed to be able to voice our opinions in college, but some teachers really don't want to hear about how you disagree with their lesson plan.

Like the OP I'm sure you can just call me lazy and I am somewhat of a know-it-all, but I am pretty smart and am just fed up. I just want to start working, but I also really would like a degree. With all the bullshit that the world throws at you, why are we practically forced into some inane curriculum when real knowledge is ascertained through practice?

Here's another way to look at it (and a swing at religion because I'm a dick... although I doubt anyone here will mind):

Why don't we all learn about how God is a fairy tale and the average person will say or do anything to make themselves think they understand the universe?

Even though I might be right, and I think the world would be better if everyone just accepted that as fact, that's considered an opinion, and opinions have no place in advanced learning.

I'm not even sure of the point I'm trying to make, but I completely agree with the OP that the way that college is set up is very backwards and not helpful toward the student. Colleges today seem to encourage drop-outs and no one seems to care about making the world a smarter place to live except a few online comic writers... oh and Penn and Teller... those guys are great.

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby Pesto » Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:46 pm UTC

lunchbox12682 wrote:All I know is that having multiple choice exams, where each question has 10 answers and if you make a mistake anywhere solving the problem will likely get you one of those answers, is a true sign of evil in academia.
Physics 152 can goto hell.
It's been almost 10 years and I still have nightmares.

Sounds like a well designed test, to me.

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby Antimony-120 » Fri Apr 02, 2010 8:35 pm UTC

Pesto wrote:
lunchbox12682 wrote:All I know is that having multiple choice exams, where each question has 10 answers and if you make a mistake anywhere solving the problem will likely get you one of those answers, is a true sign of evil in academia.
Physics 152 can goto hell.
It's been almost 10 years and I still have nightmares.

Sounds like a well designed test, to me.


That's actually an incredibly poorly designed test. If I give you the following three questions:

Find the [imath]A_{64}[/imath]th number of e. Write your answer

Now subtract 2 from it. Write your answer

Now multiply it be 3. Write your answer.

You, naturally, answer all three of them incorrectly. It's incredibly stupid for me to say "aha, doesn't understand basic addition and multiplication" and mark you down for it. This of course is a simplified example, but it shows what I mean. Linked questions are normally taken as "if you get the first one wrong I'll mark the second one as if your answer was right" because inability to do the first question may have absolutely no bearing on understanding of the next question.

As for "weed-out" courses, I'm in agreement that the myth really is that the courses get any easier. And the design of the courses is probably "Memorize this massive amount of groundwork" because most first year courses are meant purely to guarentee that the entire class is on the same level come second year.
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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Sat Apr 03, 2010 12:05 am UTC

Pesto wrote:
lunchbox12682 wrote:All I know is that having multiple choice exams, where each question has 10 answers and if you make a mistake anywhere solving the problem will likely get you one of those answers, is a true sign of evil in academia.
Physics 152 can goto hell.
It's been almost 10 years and I still have nightmares.

Sounds like a well designed test, to me.

My AP Euro teacher had quizzes that had 5 choices for each question:
3 statements: A, B, and C
D: A and B are true; C is false
E: A, B, and C are all true

Those were hard. I'm just glad that class was so curved and I write my best papers for history classes. To this day, I have absolutely no idea how I passes that class, let alone got an A.
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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby achan1058 » Sat Apr 03, 2010 12:52 am UTC

cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:My AP Euro teacher had quizzes that had 5 choices for each question:
3 statements: A, B, and C
D: A and B are true; C is false
E: A, B, and C are all true
I recall a "multichoice" test where you are to choose a non-empty subset of the 5 choices given..... (there are 31 ways)

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby Meteorswarm » Sat Apr 03, 2010 2:52 am UTC

achan1058 wrote:
cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:My AP Euro teacher had quizzes that had 5 choices for each question:
3 statements: A, B, and C
D: A and B are true; C is false
E: A, B, and C are all true
I recall a "multichoice" test where you are to choose a non-empty subset of the 5 choices given..... (there are 31 ways)


We had those, but all blank was also a valid answer. 32 ways! And we lost all the credit if any of the bits were wrong.

One I only got right because it was a list of things James K. Polk did, including "built an independent treasury" (which he did). I only remembered that fact, though, because of the They Might Be Giants song about J. K. Polk, since it was never mentioned in class.
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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby Atmosck » Sat Apr 03, 2010 7:19 am UTC

I've always hated multiple-choice math tests, where I'll work out the problem (in which they're looking for an exact/not-quite-solved answer) and get a perfectly right answer and it won't be one of the choices, and one of them is also right. For example, on the ap calculus exam, there was a question asking you to find the volume of a nearly-a-donut made by rotating an area around the x-axis. I found it by integrating with respect to x, which is WAY FUCKING EASIER than integrating with respect to y, and all the options were unsolved integrals with respect to y. (It was the no calculator section, so they didn't ask you to actually solve the integral, because it was such that finding your limits would be a bitch without a calculator.)

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby Omegaton » Sun Apr 04, 2010 2:56 am UTC

achan1058 wrote:
cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:My AP Euro teacher had quizzes that had 5 choices for each question:
3 statements: A, B, and C
D: A and B are true; C is false
E: A, B, and C are all true
I recall a "multichoice" test where you are to choose a non-empty subset of the 5 choices given..... (there are 31 ways)

I had my first multiple choice test in this manner this semester, and it blew my mind.

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby Seraph » Sun Apr 04, 2010 3:00 am UTC

Atmosck wrote:I've always hated multiple-choice math tests, where I'll work out the problem (in which they're looking for an exact/not-quite-solved answer) and get a perfectly right answer and it won't be one of the choices, and one of them is also right. For example, on the ap calculus exam, there was a question asking you to find the volume of a nearly-a-donut made by rotating an area around the x-axis. I found it by integrating with respect to x, which is WAY FUCKING EASIER than integrating with respect to y, and all the options were unsolved integrals with respect to y. (It was the no calculator section, so they didn't ask you to actually solve the integral, because it was such that finding your limits would be a bitch without a calculator.)

The point of a test isn't to find "a perfectly right answer", it's to demonstrate your mastery of some skill/subject/whatever. The fact that doing the integration with respect to x is "WAY FUCKING EASIER" is probably evidence that doing it with respect to y utilizes some additional skill that the question is designed to test.

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby Ortus » Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:01 am UTC

Seraph wrote:
Atmosck wrote:I've always hated multiple-choice math tests, where I'll work out the problem (in which they're looking for an exact/not-quite-solved answer) and get a perfectly right answer and it won't be one of the choices, and one of them is also right. For example, on the ap calculus exam, there was a question asking you to find the volume of a nearly-a-donut made by rotating an area around the x-axis. I found it by integrating with respect to x, which is WAY FUCKING EASIER than integrating with respect to y, and all the options were unsolved integrals with respect to y. (It was the no calculator section, so they didn't ask you to actually solve the integral, because it was such that finding your limits would be a bitch without a calculator.)

The point of a test isn't to find "a perfectly right answer", it's to demonstrate your mastery of some skill/subject/whatever. The fact that doing the integration with respect to x is "WAY FUCKING EASIER" is probably evidence that doing it with respect to y utilizes some additional skill that the question is designed to test.



Then it is the test writers job to figure out a question that targets that specific skill - if a question can be answered in a way not expressly desired by the test, and correctly answered, it is not 'wrong', it is 'correct'.

I have had several instances where I have used a method that I understand better on a test. The question did not specify which method to use for solving the problem, and I was marked wrong. No amount of arguing with the Professor(s) got him/her to change my score, either.

[rant] My problem is not with bad tests, but that professors will not correct any mistakes, no matter how right the student is. This may just be personal experience, but meh, if I answer a question correctly but not to your liking, I'll be expecting it to be scored favorably or I'll be writing a complaint.



And yeah, I understand that 'what the Professor says, goes' and 'the Professor may be looking for some specific thing, something you don't realize' and all that jazz, but I go to school to be educated on things that matter to me, not things that matter to the Professor. [/rant]

And yeah, that's wholly pretentious, I know. I don't care.
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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby Jorpho » Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:31 am UTC

Ortus wrote:I have had several instances where I have used a method that I understand better on a test. The question did not specify which method to use for solving the problem, and I was marked wrong. No amount of arguing with the Professor(s) got him/her to change my score, either.

[rant] My problem is not with bad tests, but that professors will not correct any mistakes, no matter how right the student is. This may just be personal experience, but meh, if I answer a question correctly but not to your liking, I'll be expecting it to be scored favorably or I'll be writing a complaint.



And yeah, I understand that 'what the Professor says, goes' and 'the Professor may be looking for some specific thing, something you don't realize' and all that jazz, but I go to school to be educated on things that matter to me, not things that matter to the Professor. [/rant]
My approach was to badger professors with questions incessantly during their tests to obtain clarification. It got to be quite ridiculous, I must confess.

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby Ortus » Mon Apr 05, 2010 1:32 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:
Ortus wrote:I have had several instances where I have used a method that I understand better on a test. The question did not specify which method to use for solving the problem, and I was marked wrong. No amount of arguing with the Professor(s) got him/her to change my score, either.

[rant] My problem is not with bad tests, but that professors will not correct any mistakes, no matter how right the student is. This may just be personal experience, but meh, if I answer a question correctly but not to your liking, I'll be expecting it to be scored favorably or I'll be writing a complaint.



And yeah, I understand that 'what the Professor says, goes' and 'the Professor may be looking for some specific thing, something you don't realize' and all that jazz, but I go to school to be educated on things that matter to me, not things that matter to the Professor. [/rant]


My approach was to badger professors with questions incessantly during their tests to obtain clarification. It got to be quite ridiculous, I must confess.


I used to do the same thing quite a bit, at one point I was in a class where the Professor was quite busy (he was, had a ridiculous amount of students, not his fault) so the TA taught most of it and oversaw most of the exams - I came across one question with two possible answers (the section header said "Only mark ONE answer") and very strong arguments for both answers, so I told the TA and he said that only one answer is correct, mark two and get marked wrong, because that is what the Professor said. So I told him I had to see the Professor before I could complete the test, Mr. TA said no. Understandable, in his position, why would he call an established professor in the middle of a seminar for one student?

I threw the test in the trash and told him I'd be ready to get an A on it when the Professor could see me and shed some light on the issue. It turns out I was right, many students had a problem with that particular question, he let me retake the test and I got an A. Of course, he marked 25% off because it was late, but I'm fine with that.
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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby achan1058 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:18 am UTC

Ortus wrote:Then it is the test writers job to figure out a question that targets that specific skill - if a question can be answered in a way not expressly desired by the test, and correctly answered, it is not 'wrong', it is 'correct'.

I have had several instances where I have used a method that I understand better on a test. The question did not specify which method to use for solving the problem, and I was marked wrong. No amount of arguing with the Professor(s) got him/her to change my score, either.
That's pretty bad, unless you are using a method which is
a) Not taught in the course.
b) Not something you are expected to know, or even likely to know.

For example, if you are asked to prove theorem X, and you handed in, "Theorem X is simply a special case of theorem Y.", where Y is not taught in the course, and is rather obscure, I feel justified to give you 0.

Another instance where using another method is not acceptable is if you are using a method which is basically hand-waving, and not mathematically rigorous. In that case, I do also feel justified into taking marks off.

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby Dason » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:52 am UTC

I'm not sure if this was the case for you but it might be that they really were looking for understanding of that specific method. If that's the case they should mention it though. In lower level classes this happens sometimes (solve this quadratic equation but use the complete the square method!) and the student can feel like they got the answer (but I got the right answer using the quadratic formula!) but that's not what the teacher was looking for. Seems a little stupid sometimes but there's a reason to teach you more than one method. (Try to derive the quadratic formula if all you know is the quadratic formula...)
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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby extrablue » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:24 pm UTC

At MSU the architecture and film courses worked like this.

100 freshman allowed
top 40% get to be sophmores
then top 80% from the second year get to move on.


I think this was awesome. Everyone was excepted into the program and it was all based on GPA in the program, so your HS grades from when you were 14 didnt count. Grades taken in your second major didnt count. It wasnt about your past but how well you did then in their programs.


MOUNTAINS AND MINDS!!
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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Tue Apr 06, 2010 12:32 am UTC

extrablue wrote:At MSU the architecture and film courses worked like this.

100 freshman allowed
top 40% get to be sophmores
then top 80% from the second year get to move on.

Does that imply that your advancement is dependent on the performance of your peers? That sounds like a recipe for an unhealthy amount of competition to me
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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby agelessdrifter » Tue Apr 06, 2010 8:54 pm UTC

mprime wrote:None of you are helping. I guess I didn't articulate what I was having a problem with very well, so I give up.

2) It proves you can be assigned a task and can be counted on to complete it.


In other words, meat for the beast.


*makes a thread complaining about difficult classes*
*insists that it's the classes and not a case of being "too lazy"*
*meets slight challenge to validity of complaint*
*gives up*

delicious

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby extrablue » Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:38 pm UTC

And what is an "unhealthy amount of competition"?

All I'm saying is that advancement is dependent on performance and I like that.
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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby achan1058 » Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:03 pm UTC

extrablue wrote:And what is an "unhealthy amount of competition"?

All I'm saying is that advancement is dependent on performance and I like that.
That's not what your system is implying. Suppose that you entered, and for some reason you are pitted against 99 other kids who are the brightest across the world, then even if you are very above average (with respect to the population, or even other schools), you are not going to stand much of a chance. On the other hand, if the 99 other students are all not caring much about the course, you can to do significantly less work and still get a good grade in such system.

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Re: So called "Weed Out Courses" (or, Why bother with colleg

Postby Shivari » Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:48 pm UTC

Yeah, that system is only ok with you if you're in the top percentage and are allowed to move on. Otherwise it fucking sucks.


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