Crib Sheets

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Crib Sheets

Postby darkspork » Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:12 am UTC

So I've got this Physics final exam. We've been granted one 8.5"x11" lifeline to aid in answering the problems, and damn is it pissing me off.

"But why?" you ask, "Why would you be annoyed by that?" The answer is simple. Allowing students to make their own sheets causes the grade to shift dramatically off one's knowledge of physics and onto how well a student's idea of what facts are important matches the teacher's. It's been hinted that our sheet should contain "the speed of sound in various materials, densities, masses and radii of known planets, Young's Modulus for various objects - stuff like that." So, instead of studying, I had to spend quite a bit of time writing down numbers, of which we will likely need one from each table. How can I know that the objects he wants are on the table? I can't. I have to guess. I've got water, mercury, and most of the common metals and woods on there. It doesn't seem fair that I could lose all credit for a question not because I don't remember the formula to find the first harmonic frequency of a taught string, not because I fucked up algebra, but because I didn't realize the professor wanted us to know the speed of sound in this particular violin's G-string. Only a tiny fraction of what I've had to write were formulas and constants that have something truly to do with physics. Most of it is trivia like the frequencies of all the notes on a piano keyboard.

This is why I hate authorized cribbing most of all: it gives the professor the freedom to make the test harder. It makes all the paying the fuck attention in class the whole semester meaningless. It would be OK if every student were given these tables on the test or told what the necessary values were in the problem or allowed to bring as much non-electronic study material as desired (which also only helps if you basically know what you're doing already or else you'll run out of time finding it) or even given exactly 20 seconds of "Internet Time" (usually enough for me to find 2-5 pieces of simple information) in the middle of the test.

I'm mostly just pissed off that I could fail because of something dumb and almost out of my control.
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Re: Crib Sheets

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:46 am UTC

With that format of a final, it sounds like you've got a bad prof. A good test will have you memorize/write formulas and give you the values in the problem and make you choose which formula is applicable. That's how things worked in my phy6 classes
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Re: Crib Sheets

Postby Adacore » Fri Dec 17, 2010 11:51 am UTC

You see, while I agree that it does seem like darkspork has a bad prof, I disagree on your definition of a good test. A good test should never have you memorize anything - since when has the ability to remember formulae or constants had any bearing on knowledge of physics (or any other technical discipline) - in the real world then you'd either look it up or, if it was something you used frequently, you'd just remember it without having to make an effort to memorise it. Tests should, imo, be open book and get you to apply the formulae which you're given intelligently and creatively to obtain a solution.

In closed book exams, you only have to remember the formulae for long enough to walk from outside the exam hall (where you're allowed your crib sheet in-hand) to your chair, pick up a piece of paper and scribble them all down again. It's utterly pointless.

Now, under time pressure, which is useful for most exams, remembering and/or being familiar with the formulae or other source material is a huge advantage, of course, but in any real situation (which presumably is what the subject I'm studying is meant to be for) if I don't remember that X=A/B, or, indeed, the causes of the crimean war, I'm not going to give up on the problem, I'm going to go and look it up.

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Re: Crib Sheets

Postby cv4 » Fri Dec 17, 2010 3:34 pm UTC

That's a weird crib sheet. In most of my classes (mech eng) that we get a sheet for, we never have to put constants like that down. Those are still given. Ours normally include formulae, example problems, how to work through the problems, etc. I've had classes where all 4 exam questions were on my crib sheet from putting assignment questions and old exam questions on it.

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Re: Crib Sheets

Postby achan1058 » Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:58 pm UTC

I disagree with crib sheets. It should be open book. That way the prof really have a chance to make the test harder. On a more serious note. I never had any crib sheets that requires us to put in constants and what not. They are usually either given in the problem, or as a separate page in the back of the exam.

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Re: Crib Sheets

Postby Halleck » Sat Dec 18, 2010 4:22 am UTC

This is definitely one of the most terrible exams I've ever heard of. To expect someone to know all of those constants is ridiculous. I agree that memorization should not be required, and if it is required only the most basic formulas should have to be memorized. There aren't any problems on these finals that are just put a few numbers in a formula and get an answer. They all require critical thinking and a good understanding of concepts. If all that was required is memorization of formulas then we would have lost the need for physicists, because computers are quite good at plugging numbers into equations and getting quick answers. I think you need a different prof. Maybe one who understands learning.

Crib sheets are the way most of my friends get through exams though. There is always the competition to see who can write the smallest on the sheet of paper or note card and fit the entire semester on this sheet of paper. All that shows is that my friends are idiots. I took a Calc final today and we were allowed 1 8.5x11 inch piece of paper write what ever you want; I completely forgot my sheet. Fortunately, sleeping through class allowed me to learn enough Calc to be the first one done with what I think is the easiest math final I've ever taken.

In the next 45 min of the final period I watched the people around me try to dig through these sheets that they've written notes on. Their tiny writing causing their sheets to be useless. If only my classmates could understand basic concepts, then they wouldn't need their cheat sheet.

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Re: Crib Sheets

Postby KestrelLowing » Sun Dec 26, 2010 9:13 pm UTC

The way I see it, cheat sheets make the test simulate the real world - they give you a repository of knowledge that you know is useful and that you know where it is. That's pretty much how it is in the real world. No one expects you to memorize formulas or constants, but they expect you to know where to find them, which one to apply, and how to use them. Cheat sheets may seem useless in classes like calc when there are very few equations and more just concepts that you need to know. In more specialized classes, they are very important.

That being said, asking you to write down all the constants is ridiculous. I've never had a prof ask for that. They either put it in the question, or sometimes they forget, but will put in on the board of the room if someone asks. Those are just so specific to one type of question that it doesn't make since for a cheat sheet.

Also, 'Crib sheet'? Never heard it called that. Where are you guys from?

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Re: Crib Sheets

Postby keeperofdakeys » Tue Dec 28, 2010 9:47 am UTC

There is also the argument that forcing you to write a cheat sheet will help you memorise the content. Writing down tables of information isn't really like that though.

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