I finished my fall class officially with the completion of the final exam yesterday around noon. They gave us three hours for it, and I assumed that meant I could get done in about two. It took me a full two hours and fifty minutes, so I really didn't get done with a whole lot of time to spare. I suppose I should have been braced for that when I saw what it consisted of: five essay questions and seventy multiple choice, each worth half a point.
Most of the questions were of the type that asked some very, very specific questions that no one outside of Rain Man would have in memory, and they forced you to go back to the book constantly. They would ask things like "the study done by Gunning specified that ______." Keep in mind that this four hundred page text has a name index of studies it cites that's seven pages long. Almost every half-point question sent me scrambling to look up the author. This test didn't really assess what we learned; it assessed how quickly we could use the index of a book. The essay questions weren't much better. All of them were of the "Explain the process of ______" type, again easily answered by simply flipping through the book to the right page and paraphrasing the process described. I was expecting a tad more practical application questioning here.
The design of some of the questions themselves was also sloppy. There were numerous questions for which the choices were "A," "B," "both A and B," "neither A nor B." Interestingly, in the last class I took over the summer on effective assessment techniques, one of the points hammered home in the creation of objective tests was to not use those types of questions. One would think that a graduate program dealing with education wouldn't be of the "do as I say, not as I do" philosophy. Maybe I'm naive in that regard, but as I submitted the test, I was thinking that if I had a student teacher who designed a final like this, I'd send him back to the drawing board.