Saturday, October 06, 2007


Some of you know I mark exam papers for a Higher subject.
There are very strict rules governing what you can and cannot write on an individual's exam paper - i.e. you can't write any words at all!! You use certain lines and symbols to indicate omissions, small errors and gross blunders. This is in complete contrast to my own papers I received back last week from a year ago - the word "random" and "I don't think so" featured heavily......

One year ago exactly I went through a number of stages to skip Year 1 of a degree in theology. I did work really hard but only for a short period of time (mid August to mid Sept) as summer is my busiest time job-wise. I guess I could have spent more time preparing but then it would have been in May and I would have forgotten it all (my memory is like a sieve).

I've had an embarrassed giggle at some of the comments on my scripts
Here's a selection: -
"very shallow" "no evidence of knowledge" "uninformed" and (my personal favourite) - "not pass". (whatever happened to the word FAIL?)

However, now that I re-read the answers I wrote under exam conditions, I am absolutely mortified at the complete tripe I wrote. What changed in the intervening week between the first exam and the resit was that I spent one hour in the local coffee shop with a friend who, without knowing what I had written, knew where I had gone wrong, because he knew me and he knew the style of writing I would use. He helped me change tremendously in that one hour meeting by going over the Grenz chapters and pointing out the slant I would have to take. I will never be a theologian but at least I have managed a basic grasp of some topics. And the resit one week later had "good" on it!

Apparently I tend towards the "Yoda" approach of sentence structure as this same marker highlights a paragraph in an essay a year later and comments "confused it seems". I don't really understand what "slow logic" means though.

This time last year I really enjoyed the mission studies essay I had to do and although the comment "random thinking" was also appended to this piece of work it was good enough to pass which is good enough for me, as I got a lot out of the reading I undertook for this. I'd rather be random than....errrr.....

On the positive note, I was delighted to read that I had achieved a "good pass" in Old Testament Studies. Again, I crammed for this in a month but this is the subject I am about to pick up again next week so I am looking forward to an area where I may have a little more ability than belief and thought. I studied archaeology for two years at university and one year of that was biblical archaeology. I can't help but wonder if this might help me a little in the class this year.


  1. Anonymous10:24 PM

    Does all of this not call into question our assessment system???? Some people just don't test well! Did you learn a lot? That's what counts!! Margaret

  2. You're absolutely dead on, Margaret. Summative assessment has always been my least favourite mode of assessment but, as you know, academic institutions seem to favour this mode of assessment over formative assessment. The module is OVER when the assessment is handed in so there is no opportunity to use the assessment to show me what needs to be learned further (in my opinion).
    Although I rebelled against it at the time, I now appreciate the benefit of Higher Still in that the introduction of NABS allowed for formative assessment.

    I frequently reissued (failed, or "not passed"!) NAB answers with pointers as to what needed to be further learned or revised. I never "taught to" the NABS as some may have done (!) as I thought it was important that the student enjoyed the act of learning for its own sake.

    Ah teacher heaven Maragret!! No more assessments of any kind!

  3. Anonymous8:10 AM

    You know, my pelvic floor is not what it was!!


    Having sat the same exams as you, I know how you feel!


  4. I have dabbled in a few theology classes myself - got a few good marks, a few OK ones and some I'd rather forget!

    In retrospect though the ones with the worst marks are the courses I have gained most from because it reflects the ones I knew least about when I started them, while some of the best marks indicate far less "value-added" in educational terms.

  5. Welcome THM! Good to hear from you!

    And you make a very good point about "value added". I may have only got 13/20 for a theology essay when my pals were getting 16 or 17, but just a few months earlier I had failed the entrance exam....


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