Thoughts on the CS161 test

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I’m halfway done checking the second long test in operating systems,
and I have a few thoughts about it. As a teacher, I suspect I’m
supposed to go along with the official line, but somehow, I feel that
something’s wrong here.

The test was easy. It was just memorization and regurgitation. Because
the different sections covered the same material and the same
questions were asked in several ways, you can actually figure out most
of the answers based on the questions in other sections.

The hardest part was the modified multiple choice. I don’t think that
was because of any inherent difficulty in the subject matter, although
the analogies were pretty nice. Rather, modified multiple choice was a
pain because it devolved into a set of true or false questions where
scores were given only for particular combinations.

I believe that tests shouldn’t just measure students’ test-taking
skills. I don’t feel comfortable with this particular kind of modified
multiple-choice test, although I realize that it forces the students
to think about what statements really are true and which ones aren’t.

We missed an opportunity to reinforce process simulation, too. My bad.
Maybe I should have volunteered for that section of the test.

I don’t really know why I’m reflecting on this. Maybe it’s because I
don’t want to just make my students memorize things that aren’t
personally meaningful to them. I don’t want to take points off because
it’s the bakery algorithm and not the banker’s algorithm or things
like that. I don’t want to just fill their heads with facts that
they’ll forget or half-remember during standardized examinations like
employers’ tests or the JITSE.

But I have to teach it that way… <sigh>

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