Thursday, December 20, 2012

Midterm time!

I know that I have not said much about my class recently.  Typically, I have between 20-30 students attending (out of 50+ officially registered).  Class begins at 5 pm, but they arrive anytime between then and 6:30.  In consideration for what I have been told about accepted attendance practice, I am grading participation in class based on a short writing that is submitted at the end of class, so even those folks who come late have the opportunity to earn those points.  On Nov. 20, I gave the midterm exam.  For the first time ever I had excellent attendance right at the beginning of the class.  (I had let students know that as long as they arrived by 6:30 I would allow them the full two hours for the exam and I did have two folks show up at about 6:15.)

Eager students, taking the midterm:

In the U.S. my midterm for this class consists of 10 case-based essay questions (the idea is to apply concepts and theories to business situations) and students have 3 hours in which to complete it.  I decided to have only six questions for this group and provided the normal class time of two hours.  If folks had read all the assigned material and been in class where I discussed all but one of the concepts on the exam - the one was clearly in the online text chapter I had assigned - I believe the exam to have been fairly easy.  Unfortunately it was clear that many people were not expecting an exam of the kind I gave and had not done the reading...  About one third of the class failed the exam.  There were several reasons:
  • Each of the questions had 2-3 students who answered it accurately and completely and another ten or so who answered at B-level, so I am confident the material was accessible to the class.  I know, because they have told me, that many of the students have not done the reading I have assigned.  It is hard to learn if one is not reading.
  • Two students showed up in my class for the very first time for the midterm exam.  I understand that in Romania it is not uncommon for folks to believe they can pass the class simply by taking the exam.  I have done my best to make clear that is not the case in my class.  Although one of them clearly had read material assigned and did pass.
  • Several students left questions completely blank, contrary to my written instructions to provide at least some brief thoughts for every question prior to their completing the whole.  When there are only 6 questions, one or, in three cases, two blanks has serious impact on the final grade!
Since handing back the midterm, attendance and class participation has been a little improved, but not what I had hoped for.  As I type this  (2 weeks after beginning the post - more about what got in the way later) I am getting ready to head to the last class meeting prior to the holidays.  About half the class will be doing oral presentations tonight.  I look forward to seeing how they do.  The rest will present when we reconvene on Jan. 9.  And then they will take a final exam...


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