Friday, September 5, 2014

Chapter 1 & 2 Test (Day 21)

You may have noticed that the first quiz, and now the first test, were both posted on Fridays. Sometimes I wonder, is this a good idea? Notice that a Friday test denies the student the opportunity to study for the test over the weekend -- based on that line of thinking, a Monday test would be ideal. But a Friday test gives the teacher the opportunity to grade the test over the weekend.

My line of thinking is, which is more likely, a student diligent enough to study for a test over the weekend, or a teacher diligent enough to grade the test over the weekend? I say that the latter is much more likely -- indeed, even professional tutoring companies have fewer customers over the weekend, so how much less, then, would a student without a professional tutor study over the weekend? Therefore, I will post most of my tests on Fridays.

This same line of thinking underlies the reason for more schools moving to an early start calendar. The traditional calendar that has its first day after Labor Day has its 90th day after New Year's Day. It would be ideal to have students study for the first semester finals during winter break and succeed on the final -- except that we can't count on students actually doing this. Indeed, the students may forget what was learned and fail the final miserably. And so school must start before Labor Day in order to have the first semester finals before Christmas.

I notice that in practice, many schools don't begin early enough in August to have 90 actual days of school before Christmas -- but beginning in mid-August is usually close enough to have a credible first semester before winter break. Many older people wonder why schools are pushing to begin so early and lament the days when school didn't start until after Labor Day. But it's impossible to have the first semester begin after Labor Day and yet end before Christmas (unless we magically change the calendar so that there's an extra month between September and December).

This also explains why, at the college level, semester colleges start earlier than quarter colleges. Semester colleges have to squeeze in an entire semester before Christmas, while quarter colleges need only a quarter in before the holidays. And we can't change Christmas -- it has to fall on December 25th regardless of whether we have a semester or a quarter system. So instead, it's the start of classes that must change. One problem that this causes is that there are different summer breaks for semester and quarter students, and so quarter students end up having trouble landing summer internships that are based on the semester system.

Here is what I came up with for the test. As I mentioned before, I tried to make each question parallel to the corresponding question on the review in order to avoid surprising students. But still, I included different properties from arithmetic from the ones on the review. Also, I hope that students don't complain when they see equilateral triangles on the review and scalene triangles on the test. Oh well -- I can't make the test identical to the review!

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