When I get time, I like to visit other science orientated blogs, including Pharyngula, written by PZ Myers. Professor Myers has a rather direct and irreverent style and discusses a wide range of issues from a humanistic, atheistic and pro science perspective.
In a recent post, Professor Myers described how he goes about writing and grading exams.
‘I just finished off one big chunk of grading, and on this exam, as is my custom, I give students a few bonus points with an easy question at the end. It is also my custom every year to have one of those easy questions be, “Name a scientist, any scientist, who also happens to be a woman,” just to see if they’ve been paying attention.’
I found this approach to be quite surprising. When I write exams I go to great efforts to make sure the questions test the course material in as clear and educationally valid way as is possible. Furthermore, all of our exams are moderated by two other staff members to remove errors and check them for clarity. Indeed, I had assumed the idiosyncratic approach to exams described above no longer existed in an environment of supposed transparency and accountability. Am I wrong? Does it still occur in New Zealand universities and further afield?