In light of the last few postings I thought that my experience last (Monday) evening might contribute to the underlying theme, which seems to be what constitutes, or contributes to, student success. Last night in class a student ask me to explain my statement that many students do not do as well on the 1st exam as they thought they did. Depending on how I have structured the course, I give 2-3 exams per semester. I always give them the questions from which I will make up the exam @ two weeks before the exam. Sometimes I make these take-home exams. I explain to them what I expect on these exams and remind them to read the definitions of grades that I have provided in the syllabus. Regardless, a large number of students (@ 30%) will do D or F work on these exams and many are surprised at, not to mention disappointed in their grade.
Here are a couple of the questions for the 1st exam:
- Using examples from Euthyphro and Meno explain how utilizing the Socratic method exposes two specific types of ignorance. In your answer explain why Socrates thinks that it is important that we define our terms.
- In the Allegory of the Cave, Socrates maintains that we are just like the prisoners. Relating you answer to his concept of truth and utilizing specific examples, explain what he means by this. (They [should] realize that we are dealing with Plato’s definition of truth.)
Some of the reasons for poor performance I gave last night are:
- Students have not read the relevant material carefully or reread it before they answered the questions.
- Students waited until the last minute to do the exam
- Students did not outline their answers before answering them.
- Students did not develop the key points, but assumed that I would fill in the blanks. They forget that a D and C are still correct answers to some extent, they simply lack detail and/or development. (I tell students to answer the questions as if the reader is not familiar with the material and they are trying to educate that person.)
- Students have not been in class (or have not been paying attention) and have not been exposed to the ongoing discussion and development of the arguments being presented by Plato/Socrates.
- Some simply do not care.