To honor colleagues who have coordinated monthly conversations as part of a Professional Learning Community (PLC), I want to share “Exam Principles” that I recently explained to my students. Tomorrow’s PLC conversation topic is the value of final exams.
Patterns, comparisons, synthesis => new realizations, recognitions, insights
Express realizations, etc, => state clearly, develop convincingly
Handle new problem / challenge / complexity => reasonable, confident solution
A summary of my explanation to students
Since we have read plays and novels more or less in isolation, the exam is a chance to consider titles together. The exam, therefore, invites you to discern patterns, make comparisons and synthesize ideas. Through these processes, you create new realizations, recognitions and insights. The exam is a time to forge new observations and interpretations, rather than repeat old ones you and I already know about.
Equally important, the exam questions your ability to express–in conventional essay form–these new insights. The two main tasks are to state your idea clearly and to develop it with an array of compelling evidence.
Lastly, and more generally, the exam gives you questions (problems) that you have not yet encountered with this reading material. It tests your ability to face a complex challenge and develop a reasonable answer.
This time, students will have two separate questions, each to be answered in essay form. The questions take into account the above principles.