Non-traditional exams not favorable

Grace Kim, Managing Editor

Times are changing indeed. My immediate reaction to social studies teacher Richard Wojewodzki’s “non-exams” was confusion.  How could a teacher give exams that allowed full access to the Internet and collaboration with other students?

With a closer look, I found that there are many other aspects to this exam that intrigue me even further. I understand that the focus of these unique exams was to apply knowledge and researching skills of human geography, and Wojewodzki certainly was aiming to accomplish something I fully support.

However, I believe that the method in which this was done is questionable. I reviewed a copy of his exam, and at first glance, it seems that the exam is easily solved with quick trips to Google.  Then, after another look, I found that some of the questions were outright time consuming and tedious. I would probably be sitting there for a good hour doing a particular question that requested I fully research a country and compare it to the U.S., complete with graphics and at least one citation from six sources.

I also feel that this exam had the potential to be very unfair.  I personally abhor working in groups because I feel that one person ends up shouldering the most work while the others can hop on their backs and turn in the group work for the same A. Call me old fashioned, but I believe that students should still be required to memorize concepts and ideas that play into human geography and our world.

Why revamp an examination system that works the way it is?  If it’s not broken, don’t bother trying to fix it.  According to an article from The New York Times, students that take tests the conventional way retain information up to 50% more than other students who simply read information and analyze it.

When comparing my freshman human geography exam to theirs, I feel that my exam was stronger because I came away with a wealth of knowledge that I still remember to this day from strict studying of the material, and I clearly understood what my teacher expected me to understand and utilize in my answers.

Real time application was certainly in my exam, and I was forced to think about how everything I learned in my class was relevant to what was on my test. The exam could still be paperless by having the students submit their questions electronically without all of the additional quirks.  But when the students are given full Internet access, input from their fellow peers’ brains, and questions solved anywhere from simple searching to in-depth planning, my eyebrows are indeed raised.

Grace Kim is a Managing Editor for “The Patriot” and jcpatriot.com.