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Evaluations for Senior Classes. John S. Walton Animal & Poultry Science, OAC University of Guelph (in support of supervised examinations). Outline. Why am I here? What I do Why I think supervised examinations are important How I think these can be improved

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Evaluations for Senior Classes

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Evaluations for senior classes

Evaluations for Senior Classes

John S. Walton

Animal & Poultry Science, OAC

University of Guelph

(in support of supervised examinations)

Evaluations for senior classes


  • Why am I here?

  • What I do

  • Why I think supervised examinations are important

  • How I think these can be improved

  • What I am really trying to ‘sell’ today?

Evaluations for senior classes

Why am I here?

  • Seemed like a good time for a ‘rant’

  • Pure reaction to reports from the “Academic Integrity” sessions last year

Evaluations for senior classes

I am somewhat concerned for the future of final examinations ….

  • Insufficient time allowed for grading (nothing new)

  • Students with conflicting final exam times (relatively new, on the increase)

Evaluations for senior classes

Potential Solutions to Exam Conflicts:

  • Abandon exams

  • Ask the other professor to hold an alternate

  • Create an alternate

Evaluations for senior classes

The Problem of Alternate Exams:

  • Time consuming

  • Ensuring equivalent course – coverage and rigor (“Fairness”)

  • Insufficient novel, meaningful and substantive questions for multiple sittings

  • For me # 3 is the major problem

Evaluations for senior classes

Potential Outcomes:

  • Fewer final examinations

  • “Final” examinations that represent a minor (trivial) part of the overall grade

  • More unsupervised methods of evaluation with the attendant risk of… “FACILITATED ACADEMIC MISCONDUCT”

Evaluations for senior classes

What I do:

I teach –

ANSC*3120Animal Reproduction (3-3) W

ANSC*4130Reproductive Management and Technology (3-3) W

ANSC*312096 students (‘04)

is the prerequisite for

ANSC*4130 38 students (‘04)

Evaluations for senior classes



Midterm examination 40% (2 h)20 questions (wk 1-6)

Final examination 40% (2 h)20 questions (wk 7-12)

Laboratory books 20%

ANSC*4130 (the course I’ll focus on primarily)

*Midterm examination 30% (2 h) 3 questions (wk 1-6)

*Final examination 30% (2 h) 3 questions (wk 7-12)

Laboratories/Hands-on 40%

*(6 questions, 3 are selected)

My students ansc 3120 w 04

My students: ANSC*3120 W’04

BSc. (Agr)


Evaluations for senior classes

The Correct Distribution?

My written exams tended to (and still do) focus on “Do they know anything?”

For example: ANSC*3120 Results

High proportion of ‘A’ grades despite the fact no student really demonstrated an ‘A’ performance (examination is heavy on retention of factual material)

Evaluations for senior classes

What is an ‘A’ Grade?

80-100 ‘A’ Excellent

“An outstanding performance in which the student demonstrates a superior grasp of the subject matter AND AN ABILITY TO GO BEYOND THE GIVEN MATERIAL IN A CRITICAL AND CONSTRUCTIVE MANNER ….”

UoG (2003)

Evaluations for senior classes


20 questions






3 questions




more difficult – but necessary

Evaluations for senior classes

Why I think supervised examinations are important

They provide an accurate method of assessing each student

The risk of academic misconduct is relatively low (well-defined boundaries)

Unsupervised examinations/assignments are relatively susceptible to plagiarism (“facilitated” academic misconduct)

Evaluations for senior classes

  • How I think supervised examinations can be improved:

  • My problem has been:

  • Too many sittings required

  • Not enough novel questions

  • Asking the wrong sorts of questions

  • My current solution is:

  • Open questions/closed exam

For ansc 4130 therefore

For ANSC*4130, therefore



Identical format

Both are a 2 h written exam

(during wk 7 and during Final Exams)

Open questions

Open Questions

Questions published:week 3 (Midterm)

week 9 (Final)

6 questions/exam (1 question per week)

In pairs (answer either 1 or 2, etc)

Evaluations for senior classes

Closed Exam

  • At the exam:

  • Questions to be answered (3 of 6) chosen by flipping a coin

  • Students write their answers without access to their notes or sample answers

  • Student identify their answer booklets using their STUDENT NUMBER ONLY

Evaluations for senior classes

Sample Question:

After graduation, you are contracted by Health Canada to assist with submissions to the Veterinary Drugs Directorate for approval of the CIDR-B* device for use in lactating dairy cattle. The request for the label-claim is for the regulation of ovulation in dairy cattle, including problem breeders. Review the currently available published evidence (North America) and develop an appropriate recommendation [i.e. prohibit, permit use, permit use with restrictions (milk withdrawal/slaughter)]. Be sure to frame this according to the approval criteria: 1) efficacy; 2) human safety; and 3) potential impact on the cow(short andlong-term).

*CIDR-B is an intra-vaginal insert that contains the hormone progesterone, ovulation is blocked while the insert is in place.

Evaluations for senior classes

Open Questions:

Students are encouraged to:

  • Prepare sample answers

  • Work together if they wish

  • Seek help from me (facilitated by an in-class overview in week 5 and week 11 and a post-mortem of the mid-term in week 9)

  • Incorporate material beyond lectures and laboratories (identifying key authors or their locations)

Evaluations for senior classes


  • Less paranoid students:

    • Predictable situation (no real surprises)

    • They have time to seek advice

    • Almost zero risk of academic misconduct

  • Allows for more complex and wide ranging questions that are problem-based (and give a better evaluation of understanding)

  • Improved precision and accuracy (vs. assignments)

Evaluations for senior classes

Advantages: (cont’d)

  • Exam can be written at almost any time – avoids composing alternate exams

  • I can assign an ‘A’ with more of a clear conscience

Evaluations for senior classes


  • Helps with, but does not totally solve the need for novel questions

  • Somewhat unfair to introverted students

  • Not all students respond to the opportunity (depressing)

  • Time commitment (instructor)

Evaluations for senior classes

Scalability and transferability:

Given the 2 courses I teach – I’d suggest a maximum of ~ 100 students (perhaps more, if it is the only course to be graded)

Applicable in any course that lends itself to essay-type questions

Evaluations for senior classes

The Sales ‘Pitch’

  • If we don’t want academic misconduct, we should prevent it through supervised evaluations

  • Consider publishing your examination questions in advance (and then expecting ‘better’ answers). Open questions/closed examinations appear to be working for me

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