A few weeks ago I reported that I gave away all the answers to my employment law class’ final exam in my last lecture to my students. My prediction was that this would have no appreciable effect on test scores.
I was wrong.
Test scores noticeably declined, with the highest score this semester coming in at roughly the same level as the lowest score the last time I taught the class. If the exam were to have been the sole basis upon which I based grades, two out of the three students in my class would have failed outright.
Now, three students this semester, and five the last time I taught it, is obviously not enough of a sample size to produce statistically significant information. But the results are still depressing. Out of eight students who have been given this question, the number of students who got this question right…
In the context of employment law, “discrimination” means:
a) Evidence that suggests the accusations against a defendant are correct.
b) Preferential treatment given to a member of a favored group.
c) The belief that members of a particular religion are morally inferior.
d) Taste, refinement, and discernment.
…is 25%, exactly the result one would expect if the students were using chance instead of actual knowledge. For the life of me I can’t figure out why this question is so difficult. I can see choosing answer “C” instead of the correct answer (answer “C” is indicative of one possible form of discrimination), but that one was picked only one time in eight. The most popular answer is still “D,” which irritates me to the point that I drop to my knees, shaking my fists at heaven in frustration as I beg a God whom I believe not to exist for a satisfactory explanation.
It’s night school, I know, but still, these are graduate students! They’re supposed to be smart! So apparently, understanding the basic definition of the single subject that constitutes two-thirds of a class is beyond the abilities of a graduate student.
So I’m kind of bummed out.
Burt Likko is the pseudonym of an attorney in Southern California. His interests include Constitutional law with a special interest in law relating to the concept of separation of church and state, cooking, good wine, and bad science fiction movies. Follow his sporadic Tweets at @burtlikko, and his Flipboard at Burt Likko.