Sunday, March 25, 2007

It's Official: I'm Only Slightly Above Average

Got my chemistry exam #2 back on Thursday, and as I expected, my grade was a 54. Out of 100. Which is 2 points above the average for the exam.

Of course, I still have issues with the test, including the fact that it took me two and a half hours to complete, that it included questions on material we were not directed to study, and that obviously most of the students in the class (including me!) don't have a clear sense of the information that we should have learned.

But what the hell. Exam three is coming up this week, so I'm pushing on. I've decided to take a break from chemistry next fall and am taking a 2000-level geology class. That's not to say that I'm not learning a hell of a lot this semester, because I am. There are things I never knew I didn't know -- and those are the things I'm learning in this class. I find the material intrinsically interesting, (that may have something to do with my age) and I'm struggling to keep up with the fast pace set by the instructor. I do feel sorry for those students who are not interested, because I know the role that affect can play in helping or hindering learning.

I went to a presentation on quantitative reasoning Friday afternoon (not well attended, but then what is on a Friday afternoon) as I consider myself the poster child for lack of development of quantitative reasoning. In fact, my spouse says that my junior high and high school math teachers should be taken out and shot (do you hear that, Coach Chauvin?). It was interesting, but I would have liked a bit more that was relative to HOW we can help sudents to develop quantitative reasoning -- I think that some of the folks who were there teach college algebra classes, and I got the feeling they would have liked some help as well.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Things I Like about Spring Break

1. shopping with the girls
2. dinner with former student and his girlfriend
3. chance to make some extra money and do professional development for an alternative high school
4. judging debates, speeches, and duets at the district speech meet (held at the local high school)
5. no chemistry class for a week!
6. chance to study chemistry for a week!
7. sleeping late (only one day, but what the hell)
8. gradual recovery from bronchitis
9. time to grade mid-term exams
10. new nighttime reading material -- novels by Terry Pratchett (the Discworld series)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Average: 52

Chemistry professor announced in class today that the average grade on exam 2 was 52. "But don't worry about it," she said. "You've got lots of other chances to do well, and that exam covered the core of the course, so every year lots of people fail it."


To a teacher? When that is the average on the exam? It's a sign that something is wrong with instruction, perhaps with the exam. It's a sign that one should go back and re-teach or at least think about how one might change instruction and/or the test for next year's class. It's a sign that even those students who studied their asses off (me!) weren't adequately prepared for the test.

I'm pretty sure my grade on exam 2 was about average for the class, though I haven't gotten it back yet.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Not-so-good Grade

Got my first chemistry exam back this week, and -- though I didn't want to publicize this -- I made a 75. That's not good enough for me, but also I should say that it is actually a B in this class, and it is exactly the class average for this first exam.

But can I also say that I got several questions wrong because I hadn't memorized conversation tables? Such as, how many micrometers are in a meter? I took a guess at that, and got it wrong. If I had had my note card with the conversion tables, I would have been able to do the problem without error. I just don't think it's that important that I have those things memorized, but that I can do the conversions and figure out units for the problems. I also had to memorize the solubility and insolubility rules for a quiz. I can only imagine that chemists have those things memorized, but because they use them so frequently. But first-year chemistry students? Just knowing that we need to refer to the solubility rules and how to apply them should be enough.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


I went back to the doctor yesterday and found out that I have bronchitis. So, I'm now taking just about every medication in the book, trying to get myself healthy. My department members went off for our research retreat, but I decided to stay home. Partly to keep myself healthy, but also because a bit of bad weather came in and the roads were getting slick and icy.

So I'm staying home, again, coughing. But now I have the feeling that there is light at the end of the tunnel.