Monday, 30 April 2018

Exam Season and Fox Hunting


Oscar Wilde described fox hunting as: “The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable!” 

And, there is still a fox hunting season - November to March according to Countryfile Magazine  in the article "15 things you (probably) didn't (want to)* know about fox hunting".

In Higher Education there is an Exam season (almost upon us).  Oscar Wilde might have said:

"The unprepared in pursuit of the unacceptable!"

I wonder just how many of the following 10 things you did not know about exams?**
  1. The use of exams to assess students dates back 2000-3000BC and originated in Assyria and ancient Egypt.
  2. The first use of exams specifically used to assess English students was in the late 1600s. It developed into its more recognisable modern form during the late 18th century.
  3. The exam season traditionally runs from May to June.
  4. According to Diane Abbott, in 2004, MPs voted by a majority of 356,531,986 to 1 to ban the use of exams in Higher Education. The law came into effect in 2005. Exams were banned in Scotland in 2002. 
  5. Countries that permit the use of exams in Higher Education include the US, Russia, Germany and everywhere else.
  6. Traditionally, you could identify students taking an exam by the number of buttons on their cape – 5 buttons for a PhD, 4 buttons for a Master and 3 buttons for an undergraduate.
  7. Coursework assessment has replaced exams in some areas. It involves the provision of developmental feedback to students in a timely manner.
  8. The Keith Inquiry, set up in 1999 to assess the impact of exams and the consequences of a ban, identified that between 60,000 and 80,000 full-time jobs depend on exams in the UK.
  9. Research by Ronald McDonald at Oxford University's Fast Food Research Unit suggests that the average duration of an exam – from when a klaxon is sounded to when students trudge forlornly back to their part-time jobs – is 67 minutes.
  10. Exams have been shown to be very good tests of memory, rote learning and speed writing - all aptitudes highly prized by employers (not).
* my italics       
 ** only some of these things are actually true.

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