Sunday, May 13, 2012

It's easier to ask a hard question than to answer it

That was just driven home to me. And it reminds me why I spend so much energy on designing assessment questions when I teach. Answers are important, but clever questions are way more important.

A good question looks difficult to people who don't know what they're doing, and looks easy to people who know what they're doing. It's a goal of mine that any student who has put a serious, honest effort (and paid attention to my suggestions) will see my exam sheet and squeal with delight. And those who are unprepared will groan.

So when you come up with a badly conceived question, it can look hard to everybody, the knowledgable and the ignorant alike.

I was given a brain teaser by a student that my wife teaches. Sylvia says he's a prodigy with maths, but not much of a verbal communicator. I sort of got that by the question. It looks good on the surface but after quite some effort on my part I think the young lad might have made an error in his arithmetic.

So it takes a lot of energy for the answerer to arrive at a conclusion that the asker has it wrong. Sure, that's where the real genius students shine, but not through good management on the part of the examiner.

No genius here. Just perspiration.

As I go into exam writing time, I make the commitment that my students in Brand Management will have no such horrible surprises. So help me.

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