Thank you to all who have sent me ideas and suggestions - please don't stop if you have something useful! To those who suggest that a short-answer exam is the solution to my problem: I agree, but circumstances don't allow time to score it this summer. I normally give a 25-question multi-choice exam to ~1000 student each quarter (3 lab classes - up to 458 sections of 16 - 24 students). This is, of course, scored mechanically. Those who fail to score 75% on that exam either drop the course or are permitted to take a makeup exam (passing score 85%) to retain their place in class. The makeup exam is the one I'm converting from short-answer to multi-choice. (I'm going to be out of town & must hand off administration & scoring to others this Summer.) Since we use this exam to actually drop people from the class, issues of fairness and relevance are huge. I think my short-answer/list-the-steps-you-would-take/multi-choice combination exam does a pretty good job of culling the "know something & learning fast" lab student from those who can't/won't take a safety exam seriously enough to study for it (none of this is all that hard!). It also gives me an occasional window into the thought processes of those who don't get it & a chance to suggest that some just don't speak English on a level necessary to follow lab instructions. For those who are curious - we generally drop anywhere from 10 to 15 students each quarter through the year, in addition to those who drop themselves when they fail the first exam. -- Sheila M. Kennedy, CHO Safety Coordinator, Undergraduate Teaching Laboratories Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry University of California, San Diego 9500 Gilman Dr. La Jolla, CA 92093-0303 (858) 534-0221 If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
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