Great New Blog

Thanks to an e-mail tip, I’ve stumbled across what looks like a very nicely-written blog about education by a psychology and education professor, which is just getting off the ground.  For instance, take a look at his most recent effort, a how-to about how to inflate your student’s grades.  After all, you could ask your students this question:

The third president of the U.S.A. was:
A. John Adams
B. John Hancock
C. James Madison
D. Thomas Jefferson

Or, you could ask your students this question:

The third president of the U.S.A. was
A. George Washington
B. Thomas Jefferson
C. Bill Clinton
D. George W. Bush

In theory, both questions test the student’s mastery of the same body of knowledge in history.  But you needn’t be an expert in educational theory to confidently predict that you’ll get a higher percentage of correct answers to the second question because the first is “tricker.”  You can decide for yourself whether you want to commend or condemn the student who attempts to justify his answer of “John Hancock” or worse yet, Peyton Randolph or Thomas Mifflin, after getting the unfavorable results back.

I’ll let Prof. Stillman take it from there, and I commend his blog to all my Readers.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. I always like to ask who's the 4th President. (better to ask and give two tries)A. Alexander HamiltonB. John HancockC. James MadisonD. Benjamin FranklinGreat Final Jeopardy question, category was "The 50 States.""Benjamin Harrison had the admission orders shuffled, so no one knows which of these two states was 39th and which was 40th."

  2. I remember when my schools got their first Scantron machines. It was beautiful. Tests all became multiple choice. There was also a discernible pattern: one answer way off, one kinda off, and two close ones. So the 3rd president question would be like:(a) John Adams (close but not quite)(b) Thomas Jefferson (correct)(c) Aaron Burr (kinda off)(d) Ronald Reagan (way off)So even if you had no idea what the answer was, you could simply go by process of elimination. Which of these is nothing like the other? Ronald Reagan. Of the remaining three, I've heard of Adams and Jefferson, so scratch off Buff. So in ten seconds you've got a 50/50 chance on an answer you would spent 20 minutes trying to figure out if you had to simply fill in the blank.

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