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Teaching Tip: How Hard is it to Make a Good Exam?

November 15, 2012

One of our biggest responsibilities as OM instructors is making up exams and homework assignments. Do you think your students are too test- and answer-oriented?  When preparing for quizzes and tests, do they focus on memorizing formulas and answers, without really thinking about the questions? Does someone ask during each lecture: “Will this be on the exam?”

To cultivate interest in questions, some instructors consider having students write exam questions. Could this be a way to help teachers generate new test questions?  “Don’t count on it,” writes Professor Maryellen Weimer, author of the Teaching Professor Newsletter“Writing good test questions — ones that make students think, ones that really ascertain whether they understand the material — is hard work. Given that many students are not particularly strong writers to begin with, they won’t write good test questions automatically. In fact, you probably shouldn’t try the strategy if you aren’t willing to devote some time to developing test writing skills.”

The approach that Jay and I take is to deal with this issue for you. We have created an on-line Test Bank of close to 3,000 AACSB-coded Multiple-choice, True-False, fill-in-the blank, and math-oriented questions to accompany the text. And we have tested and retested these questions to make sure each is crystal clear. In addition, we now have now over 700 homework problems in the text programmed into MyOMLab, our assessment software. Most of these are available in both “bookmatch” (exactly the same as in the text) and “algorithmic” versions (which means that each student solves the same problem, but with a unique data set). If any issue regarding clarity in any one of our resources arises, we will fix the problem on-line the same day.

Making and grading homework and quizzes is probably the least fun part of teaching OM. Our testbanks are there to help you save time for the rest of your teaching tasks.

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