Monday, November 28, 2005

Final Exam: preliminary post

Logistics: We'll meet on Tuesday of finals week: (December 13) at the regular time, 8:45. I'll write an exam that I expect will take the average student about 90 minutes, so most slower writers won't have a significant disadvantage--you're welcome to use 125 minutes. The exam will be essay questions, so bring an exam book. The exam will be comprehensive. It will be structured in a way that requires you to write about either Mills Racial Contract or Steger's Globalism (amongst, of course, other things). I will either ask you to write one long essay and a few short ones of two longer essays (and maybe something really short as well).

As for information, study guides, etc.

Here are two options.

Option 1: I post several "sample questions" that are similar in structure and content to the ones I will ask, but are not, in fact, the questions that will appear on the exam. On the exam itself, there will be a non-trivial amount of choice about what ideology and what theorists you write about, sometimes within a question (example: compare one liberal and one conservative or Strong D. thinker on issue X), or between more specific questions.

Option 2: I give you a list of questions that I'll choose from for the longer essay questions. You'll have some of those essays to answer on the exam, but you'll have no choices--you'll have to answer the ones I choose. Also, once I post the exam questions, I'll offer only the most general help in formulating answers--they'll be posted after a review session, and you'll be more or less on your own in formulating answers. I'll probably post 6 or 7 questions, and you'll write on two. (I might also put a short answer on this exam that you won't know about in advance, but that'll be worth no more than 10% of the exam). Given that you have the precise questions in advance, my expectations would be modestly (but not significantly) higher.

I'm willing to go with a democratic decision here, and I'll tell you that the distribution of grades will probably be similar no matter which way you choose. We won't have much class time to devote to Rousseau/Barber style deliberation about this decision, so we'll have to go with a more liberal version of democracy--voting, taking the majority preference. Rousseau is too hard to please anyway.

I'd recommend option 1, personally--option 2 leads to unnecessary overpreparation and the questions I do ask will deal with major course themes and won't contain any sneaky tricks or questions that highlight minor details. Anyone who has been doing the readings, attending class, and spending some time just thinking about this stuff should do fine with a bit of review.

Feel free to use this discussion thread for two things. 1) Making the case for option 1 or 2 (we'll vote in class on Thursday), or 2) Asking me any further questions about what to expect on the exam.


At 9:19 AM, Blogger Brennan Stanfield said...

"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me" Option 1 "or give me death!"

Patrick Henry (and Brennan Stanfield)

At 7:18 PM, Blogger Nicole Groves said...

I agree with Brennan: Option #1. This is my thinking, if we had Option #2, we would have to study for all 7 of the questions to ensure we have answers for all of them. Not having notes, we would have to memorize answers for all the questions, for we don’t know which ones will be chosen. Depending upon the difficulty level (and it was stated that they would be more difficult), memorizing all these answers could be rather strenuous to one's brain (and one might forget them in a bought of test anxiety).

With option #1, even though one does not have the security of knowing what the questions will be, we'll know what they'll be like and we'll be able to choose (which we wouldn't be able to do with Option #2 and might get stuck with questions we don't like). Also, I'd much rather be tested on the general ideas of these theorists than something more in-depth and difficult.

Well, I've done my strong democratic duty :)... (well, okay, maybe not, since strong democracy isn't so much a duty as a way of life, and living it I would have to come back and respond to those who counter my views... Ah, well…)

At 8:26 PM, Blogger Nicole Groves said...

Oh! I have a question: does one need to use a blue book for the exam, or can one use normal notebook paper?


At 7:08 AM, Blogger djw said...

I'd prefer that you bring an exam book, thanks.


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