So it is the final exam for my quantum field theory class tomorrow, and today I need to write it and typeset it. I’d given them a choice of exam. They seemed to want a take-home exam, but I warned them that a take-home is probably going to be way more challenging. I’d be thinking up newer, harder material that you can’t just google the results for. An in-class exam has a time limit, which seems to freak people out, but on the other hand (assuming the examiner (me) is a reasonable person – and I think I’ve given them every reason to believe that) it is likely to be written to be solvable in the assigned couple of hours. So there is a much stricter limit to the length or depth of what they’re going to be asked to do. If they’ve really been following along in the class and doing the homework, they should be able to get most of the exam done without breaking a sweat in 3/4 of the time allowed… maybe the last 1/4 of it might need a bit of furrowing of the brow, squinting the right way, scribbling hurriedly here and there, but in the spirit of a challenge, not torture. Even if they don’t get every last part solved, a well-designed exam will give them several opportunities to show off what they’ve learned.
I like setting take-home exams too, but I’ve a soft spot for in-class exams, I’ll admit. As you may have guessed, I loved in-class exams when I was a student. Yeah, I’m weird. This does not mean that I always scored super-well on them, but I enjoyed the Continue reading ‘Goldilocks Final’