Editorial: A subtle insult to intelligence

by Megan Bristow

It is a dream come true for many students.

They are worried about a test coming up in class. They may even have multiple tests or assignments in other classes due at the same time. How in the world is everything going to get done?

Then, to their pure delight, the instructor hands them a test bank of practice questions in the one to two classes before the test and tells the students that approximately 50 out of 200 of those multiple-choice questions will comprise the exam.

Well, that was easy. All that is left for the student to do now is go through the textbook, notes or work with another student to pick out the correct answer and then memorize the answers to those questions. It involves no knowledge of subject material or definitions and requires no ability to be able to apply the material.

Although these test banks certainly come as a relief and guaranteed timesaver, I believe that these are either an insult to the student or the instructor, depending on the situation.

In one respect, it is an insult to the student because it sends the message that either the professor doesn’t believe his or her students are capable of understanding the material, studying well enough to make a decent grade, or caring about the class enough to do either of the aforementioned reasons. Perhaps the instructor really is just trying to give his students a break knowing that they probably already have multiple assignments on their plate with just school in addition to the loads of stress that can come from work, family or extracurricular activities.

Is that not part of the college experience, though? If a student cannot handle taking a test without being given a test bank, the student should consider whether that is an area that he or she should be taking classes in or if college is a good option for them at that time in their life.

However, there is another side to it. This is when it becomes an insult to the professor. I am sure many students can relate to those classes where they have no idea what the instructor is talking about. And it is not as if they are the only one in the class with this problem for the rest of the class is as lost as they are. When a student asks a question in the class to try to clarify the material that they do not understand, the professor either has to look it up or contradicts what he or she said earlier about it making the student wonder if the instructor even understands the material.

I know personally that I have taken several of these classes during my college career. Many times, they were classes I was particularly excited about when I signed up for them because I had a great interest in the subject but was later let down by the lack of knowledge or enthusiasm that the instructor seemed to possess. In these classes, it either was or would have been a relief to be handed a test bank of questions because no matter how much I paid attention in class or kept up with the material on my own, I would not be passing that class.

In this case, a test bank of sample questions is certainly an insult to the professor. If you do not possess the knowledge to teach a class on a certain class, then the instructor should either learn the information required to teach on that subject or decline the opportunity to teach that subject. An instructor that does not is only robbing students of an opportunity to learn, hard-earned money that was used to pay for the class and the confidence that comes from working and studying hard to pass a test.

A learning environment is not aided by the distribution of test banks. Additionally, many of the tests in life that students will have to take later will not come with a test bank of questions and answers. Do yourself a favor and earn that high grade by your own merits instead of relying on someone else to provide the answers for you.


Image courtesy of MCT Campus



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