Mid-Term 2012.

Students often ask me if it is possible to score a perfect test result.  I will usually say “yes, but it’s not often.”  This mid-term we had two scores of 30/30 and a significant number of exam marks 25/30 and higher.  As I explained on Friday, when I personally handed out your mid-terms to each student who was present in tutorial, the exam average was 21/30 with a standard deviation (SD) of +/-4.  Thus, 2/3rds of the exam scores ranged from 17 to 25.  This is a very good outcome for a first year course, in fact the mid-term average is slightly higher then the norm which would more likely have been 18 or 19 out of 30 with a narrower SD of +/-3.  I draw this conclusion from about 10 variations of the course that I have taught over the past 15 odd years.  So, the overall conclusion is that the mid-term results this year were very good.

I know that there will be students who feel disappointed with their mid-term.  A few students may even believe that errors have been made in the marking, while other students will feel depressed and sad about how they may have failed themselves. Either way I say don’t despair.  It’s best to fail earlier, harder, and when it doesn’t really count – learn from your failure (whether your fail was 14/30 or 22/30 or . . . ). Perspective is everything.  For those students who did not pass or just passed you have an option of making an appointment with me for an oral assessment.  If you can demonstrate an understanding of the course material I will revise your grade to 16/30.

Any student who wishes to talk about their exam please make a point of speaking with your teaching assistants and/or me.  If you note errors of addition please bring them to our attention.

A colleague in physics at UBC uses a sports metaphor to help his students think about exam results.  Imagine that you just played what you through was your soccer game to win – but you lost, lost badly.  “Don’t,” he said, “yell at the ref!”  Take a moment and think about the game.  Go off to the locker room with your team and self assess.  What did we do right?  What mistakes did we make?  What more could we have done?  His point, and one that I agree with, is that your first step is to review your exam and how you answered it.

The first step of your  review is to look at the questions, your answers, and the notes that you have taken in class and while you were preparing for the exam.   Once you have done that ask fellow class members how they answered specific questions.  Be warned – there will be variations in the type of answers.  You might find this confusing at first, but think about the different answers and consider how yours is different. (To aid in your comparison I have posted below one of the exams that was marked 30/30 for your reference.)  Once you have reviewed all of these different sources of information rewrite your own answers.  Supplement your answers by adding material from your notes, readings, and the other exams you have reviewed.

Finally, congratulation to everyone who turned up and wrote your exam.  That is an important act of self-respect.  Sometimes people find it hard to face an exam.  Just doing it is, as far as I am concerned, a form of success.



ANTH 100-2011: Final Exam Essay Questions

The final exam will be scored out of 80 marks (worth 40% of your final grade).  Part 1 of the exam is 60 points (questions will be handed out on exam day).  Part 2 is 20 points with each essay question worth 10 points.

Three of the following five questions will be included on the final exam.  On exam day you will have a choice to answer two of the three essay questions.

Long list of essay questions.

  1. Compare and contrast the variation of gender in human societies.
  2. Discuss how the four original sub-disciplines of anthropology (socio-cultural, linguistic, archaeological, and biological) contribute to an understanding of humanity.
  3. Lee, Marcus, and Menzies each describe their research methods and experiences in their respective ethnographies.  Drawing from their ethnographies, describe the research method(s) of socio-cultural anthropology.
  4. Discuss how drastic social change can lead people to create new worldviews to help make sense of their changed world.  Your answer should use one or more examples from course lectures and/or readings.
  5. Discus the role of anthropologists in the “Human Terrain System.”  In your answer consider the following: what is the place of anthropology in military settings, and; what role does racism and/or cultural imperialism have in shaping the problems that these anthropologists are engaged to resolve?

Quiz Writing

Here’s the deal -it takes work to answer a quiz or an exam.  However, it’s not simply how much time you put in, it’s really about learning how to study smart. Sometimes we can find ourselves spending lots and lots of time  preparing for something but not get anything accomplished.  To be able to manage a full load of university courses, a life beyond class, maybe a job, etc, means being able to studying effectively and not waste your time.

Smart Study means listening to what is said in class (remember the blog on ‘what’s the prof want anyway?).  The lecture gives you the ROAD MAP to a satisfactory grade (for the mark inclined -that’s a C+/B-).  Read more, participate in tutorial discussions, ask questions in lecture, talk to your prof and TAs (we can be found fairly easily), generate questions as you read.  If you engage in smart study you will do okay.

The Quiz. As per comments in lecture over the past several weeks the quiz will draw from lecture and readings.  Also, you can find an outline of the quiz format on your course outline:

Format: Each quiz will have two basic sections.  The first will involve short, fill in the blank and/or matching type questions.  The second will involve answering a number of paragraph type questions.  For this section there will typically be a set of four or five possible questions from which students will select two or three to answer in the space provided.

One of the hard things about a first time experience with university examination is that unlike highschool the structure and content of the test isn’t laid out for you or served up on a platter.  You will have to work at it, but the signs are fairly clear.

  1. Course outlines have headings and assigned readings under those headings.  Read the heading. For our first unit the main heading is:  “The Tools of Anthropology.”  This should give a student a really clear indicator of the primary learning goal of the unit -that is, you are learning about the tools involved in doing anthropology.  Some among you might say, what do you mean by tools?  Okay, I guess that’s a fair question.  Tools, from the way we have been talking about it in class are about how it is that anthropologists do what ever it is we do.  It would seem that this involves research (called fieldwork in anthropology), key concepts (i.e. conceptual tools used in doing anthropology), and some basic understanding that there are several types of anthropology.
  2. Lectures have structure -take notes following the lecture structure. Sometimes it might seem hard to figure out what to take notes on -everything?  or, just the important things?  (but then ‘what is important’?).  When a prof uses powerpoint or overheads it makes your job as a student a little bit easier.  Normally we (that profs) select key words or phrases that highlight what we have decided are the most important of critical issues.  Thus, your job of figuring out what is ‘important’ is made easier.
  3. Now put readings and lectures together. Compare your notes of lecture with your notes from the readings.  If you are a habitual highlighter -consider locking your highlight pen away and opening up a notebook in which you write into it the key ideas from the things you read; don’t waste your time highlighting  everything in the text book.  By the time you’ve finished highlighting your book will likely look like a rainbow.
  4. Finally, if you haven’t been reading along as per the course outline you will find it harder to speed read and catch the wave in time for your quiz.  Of course, there are those among us who can read the textbook the night before and do okay (or even great).  But for the majority of us doing well on a quiz, a term paper, or an exam is the product of smart study and hard work.

More info on exams and exam writing can be found under the ‘exam’ tag.