Monday, October 23, 2006

These readings hit home!

Now here are some readings I really loved...they are very applicable to my role as a TA for HIST 125 and my future goals as history professor.

I really liked the history of the multiple-choice question/exam in "No Computer Left Behind." I did not really know anything about them, I just knew they were here and they were a scurge on the academic profession...but do have some very useful applications, namely standardized tests like the SAT, ACT, LSAT, GRE, etc. They are not perfect, by an stretch of the immagination (remember Shaq's declaration in that basketball movie with Nick Nolte, where he says, "That test is culturally biased" about the ACT I think??). Also, things like surveys and personality profiles can be used very effectively through mult-choice format. But not for history! And while I hate grading essays (I don't HATE it, I just HATE the time it takes!), they are much better at showing whether a student udnerstands what we are telling them.

Another interesting point was raised by Mills in "For Better of Worse? The Marriage of the Web and Classroom." He says, in his last paragraph, that the hypermedia revolution, while it "does not herald the end of the book, I believe it does herald the end of the coverage model introductory history survey course." And while many things I have been exposed to in this course (both topically and the "under the hood" stuff) scares me sometimes (mainly, a fear of things I do not understand kind of thing...but it also fills me with hope and wonder that maybe, one day, I WILL be able to do some of it!!), this is a welcome subtraction. I have always thought something had to be done about those survey courses in their present formats. I, not being a school administrator or even a faculty member yet, have not really formed any opinions as to what should be changed. But, all I know is, I hate the way most surveys are taught at the present. Changes NEED to be made!

And as for the WHM exercises we were supposed to poke around on, I think they are very good teaching tools and make for some fun and interesting exercises, but I did get one wrong that I was kind of miffed about. The first one, "what can maps tell us," wanted to know how cholera was spread in this 1854 London neighborhood. I got the question about how the disease spread wrong. It was becuase they were drinking water out of a tainted pump but how was I supposed to know the dang public water pump was? Was that actually labeled on the 1854 map Dr. Snow used? If so, why was I not able to see the pump until after I answered the question?? That would seem to be pretty vital information! Sorry, I am starting to enjoy the Blog-rant, as many of you can tell...

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