Cross-Country Hiking and Multiple-Guess Test Taking
Yesterday was a beautiful day for hiking and test taking. I did both with aplomb. I haven't written much about going to Crafton Hills College since I originally checked it out over a year ago and decided to take some classes for fun. I remember, at the time, checking out the "Writer's Workshop" upstairs at the Library. I haven't been back there yet. But I have taken some music classes and Art History. Currently I'm taking a "Total Fitness Class with Chris P. and an Art Hist. II class with Kris A.; two very interesting professors.
My first Chris has us stretching, doing cardio and pumping iron every Monday and Wednesday at 11:A.M. She is very involved and "hands-on" in her approach. You can tell she loves her job and enjoys helping all of us "get fitter". Yesterday she allowed me to hike cross-country up a fire access road above the campus to the gigantic water storage tank (reservoir) on the top of the hill. (the one with the "CHC" written on it among other four-letter words all sprayed out, except one) At first, she was only permitting walking on the level track but now, with the golf class practicing drives there, she has acquiessed. This is a roughly-paved road that winds around for about a mile and a half and has an assent grade of up to 15%. My younger classmates were trying to run up and down with some success. I decided to walk briskly. Well, that soon had to be modified. I like to challenge myself with only "nose-breathing" (like the Indians used to do with a mouthful of water to spit out at the end) Halfway up I switched to mouth breathing big time. Soon I was slowing down and I even tried walking backwards. Chris kept track of me and came back for me on the way down. A bit concerned? Maybe.
On the way up I was remembering an incident near my childhood home on York Blvd. We too had a "water tank" on the top of a hill above our house. We kids used to hike up to it and play catch/ball below it. One particular day, we thought we kept hearing someone yelling/screaming from up by or in? the tank. Upon closer inspection, we discovered that there were some "teenaged boys" swimming in the tank and the water level had gone down and they were trapped and getting tired. We ran home and called the fire department (before 911) and "Saved their Lives" (my first "life preserving") They had been sneaking into the water tank (our drinking water) and swimming (among other things I suppose) but always earlier in the day. Toward the evening, people were watering their lawns and cooking supper and the water level had gone way down and they couldn't climb up the slippery center pole (being too tired). We were never rewarded or recognized for that rescuing act.
I then proceeded slowly to the gym's basement where I had planned to "pump iron" for my arms and shoulders/back. I did, slowly, but by the end of the hour, I was literally shaking. No problem, no concern, I had a test coming up at 1:P.M. with my other Kris professor. It was only later, today, that I found out I had a mild infection going on in my lungs and I'm back on the antibiotic Avelox for the next seven days. The doctor recommends "treadmill only". I'm still alittle achy but I walked my 30 minutes today.
My Hist. of Art professor is so funny especially when she is preparing us for one of her "babies" as she refers to her "M-G-Tests". She is referencing her daughter and the way she dealt with the boyfriend/suitors coming to call. She wanted/wants "No Marks" of any kind on her daughter or her tests. All the marks go on the scantron sheets with a #2 pencil. She was actually quite proud of the the first test over the first two chapters because "we had some input into them" according to her. We had to write our "best" M-C test questions (8 of them) and turn them in (in a timely fashion) She chose from them and combined them with her own i.e. suggested one from the textual materials that professors get. They were "beauties". Every trick of test construction and "distractor writing" was used. i.e. "All of the Above, None of the Above, B and C only etc. You really had to know your stuff or be awfully experienced at "M-C Test taking". I felt pretty confident and finished in good time. But, I must admit that I had to do some guessing. What amazed me was that for a "History of Art" course there was absolutely no "visuals", no slides, no id's, no comparisons of style etc. No creative thinking, or expression was asked for. Wait, what's the matter with me? This is a survey class with 40 + students. It is lecture only with no discussion or "socratic dialogue" That would come with a smaller class wouldn't it? We were turning in the questions but getting no "feed back" on their correctness or authenticity. I'm missing that. Maybe in a future, smaller class we can have that helpful way of learning.(aside: At a summer school I taught on the Olympics and Greece, I came one day dressed as "Socrates" toga and all and "bugged" the students to distraction when I would only ask and answer with questions all day)
I'm surprised that Kris has gotten no help from the college or her colleagues on how to set up and run the slide projector or how to make a "power point presentation" of just the artwork slides juxtaposed for comparison. Has team teaching not come to the college level or has it left already? Kris's husband is an artist who works with computer graphics at another college. Maybe he could help. Ms. Blalock, my Art Hist. professor for part one, could probably help with the technological logistics. I can appreciate the fact that she wants this class to be more "analytical" and not "just memorization of works/dates etc." But I think that my younger fellow students could be asked to participate in ongoing discussions and questions that would only enhance their learning. I was not happy with the "one mid-term, one final" grade either in Art Hist. I. We even did a "research paper" on two museums. But there wasn't that much feedback.
Just like the sudden cross-country hiking without build-up or prep; multiple-guess testing doesn't really test for long-term staying knowledge or learning growth without some preparation on how to effectively write and answer questions that measure facts and knowledge acquired in such a short period of time. I'm guessing that some students paniced and got "shakey" and just left early. Or, they learned how better to be ready for the next "multiple-guess test" by reading the chapter more thoroughly, taking notes better and asking more questions. Bob!