what if your teacher matches the answers?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by PG1995, Sep 29, 2011.

  1. PG1995

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Apr 15, 2011
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    Hi

    My teacher is quite a character, I think. He proudly says that if your end answer is not correct and does not match the answer he has, he deems the solution not correct and awards very little marks. I have been told, even here on this forum, that in technical subjects method is given more importance rather than mistakes of using "-" sigh instead of "+" etc. If the the instructor feels that you know the method and could have easily solved the problem and reached the correct answer if the student hadn't switched "-" in place of "+" then the student will be given good marks. But what do I or someone else do with this teacher who, as we can predict, is going to many of the students? Any suggestion?
     
  2. SgtWookie

    Expert

    Jul 17, 2007
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    If your answer doesn't match the teachers' answer within the specified limits of precision, then the answer is wrong.

    If you supposedly knew the method to calculate the answer and still arrived at an incorrect answer, you either didn't implement the method properly (answer is still wrong) or you just plain didn't know or understand the method (answer is still wrong).

    I have yet to see a teacher award credit for wrong answers.

    If your answer is within 3 decimal places of the correct answer unless higher precision is specified, it should be considered correct.
     
  3. GetDeviceInfo

    Senior Member

    Jun 7, 2009
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    showing your work is probably the best approach. Keep your tabulation clear and organized. In my last year of electrical we had problems (service loads) that required long progressive calculations. If you had an error early, chances are you'd miss 75% of the answers, and if it wasn't right, it's wrong.
     
  4. someonesdad

    Senior Member

    Jul 7, 2009
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    When you get out in the real world, nature awards the grades. Your schooling is trying to help you get better grades from nature. You'll find that nature doesn't give good grades for wrong answers -- and nature is much tougher than any teacher you had in school.
     
  5. jwilk13

    Member

    Jun 15, 2011
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    When I went to school, we received partial credit for wrong answers, given that the reason for the wrong answer was something simple like a mistake in arithmetic or simply writing down the wrong thing. It was nice while in school.

    That being said, it did a horrible job of conditioning me for the real world. Like it or not, there is no "partial credit" when you're on the job. If you're designing something, it either works or it doesn't, and that simple arithmetic mistake could be the difference between millions earned or millions lost. School put me in the "good enough" mindset, and it's a tough one to reverse.

    My advice would be to thank your professor for being so detailed and simply make sure that the work you do is correct. It may seem like a pain now, but you'll be thankful later.
     
  6. CraigHB

    Member

    Aug 12, 2011
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    When you're designing circuits, things don't partially work when your method is right, but your numbers are wrong, You probably should not get partial credit when doing the same in a classroom. But, you are learning in a classroom and grades are a reflection of your understanding. Not quite the same thing. It's been a long time since my EE classes in college, but I seem to remember getting partial credit for right method, wrong answer before.

    In the real world, you double or even triple check your numbers. It really sucks when you build something only to find it doesn't work right due to a computational error. It takes a lot more time and money to deal with that situation then it does to make sure the numbers are right to begin with.
     
  7. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    Once in my life, I received 90% credit for a wrong answer. It was in chemistry class. All of my work was correct except that I forgot to include the conversion from "proof" to percentage in an alcohol solution. Go figure. I guess it depends on the teacher.
     
  8. Adjuster

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2010
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    One view holds that any error must be punished with the maximum penalty, as a preparation for the harsh realities of life: no credit can be given for partially correct answers, as (it is alleged) none is given in reality. All answers must be accurate numerically, and in all the detail of the method and its presentation, with no steps omitted, otherwise "nul points"... On the other hand, it may be questioned whether giving no credit for anything but a perfect answer is always the most efficient means of motivating students or of assessing their progress.

    The answer to these questions may not be the same in every type and level of institution: for instance numerical accuracy would be tremendously important for someone training to be a dispensing pharmacist, whose possible mistakes could cost lives due to incorrect dosages of medicine. The same holds good for many engineers and technicians whose work can be safety critical.

    A military instructor could have a very much sterner approach, where even recruits who had carried out a task apparently correctly might be told that they were in the wrong, as a pretext for meting out various punishments: part of a process for instilling unquestioning discipline.

    A remedial teacher dealing with dyslexic or dyscalculic learners might follow a very different method, but this is getting away from the mainstream.

    In the end, a pupil faced with a teacher who is committed to a certain marking policy usually has little choice but to do their best to conform with what is asked of them. Even if it became apparent that the teacher was actively seeking to avoid giving credit, whether out of personal malice or for some other purpose, there may be little option but to tough it out. Perhaps you should be glad that some of the credit on your course does come from numerical answers! These are harder to fudge than say the assessment of an essay question, where the grading might be more subjective.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2011
  9. kubeek

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 20, 2005
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    I have to disagree. For me most errors in school calculations were because of mistyping the calculation on a calculator. I would say that if you have the formula right but wrong answer, you still have allmost correct answer.
     
  10. VoodooMojo

    Active Member

    Nov 28, 2009
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    most times, proofreading an answer before submitting it will expose the mistake.
    If the mistake is not discovered, then the material is not really understood. Answer is incorrect.

    Besides,
    Putting a - where the + should be just sounds like a short-circuit, and that's just wrong in any case.
     
  11. PG1995

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Apr 15, 2011
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    Thank you very much, everyone. I see many members are siding with my square instructor! :(

    But in exam we don't have that much time. We just have enough to complete the exam.

    Best wishes
    PG
     
  12. HarveyH42

    Active Member

    Jul 22, 2007
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    You can't always blame the instructor, sometimes the school sets the policy. If you pay to attend a quality school, expect to be required to do quality work. You get partial credit in High School, where a high percentage of the students won't amount to much. The instructor may make some allowances, but don't count on it. Wrong answers, are just wrong.
     
  13. thatoneguy

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 19, 2009
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    Having the right formula and the wrong answer just means a bit of smoke, or a lot of smoke and looking for a new job, depending on what the formula was calculating.
     
  14. atferrari

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 6, 2004
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    In many disciplines you may be asked about the (conceptual) procedure itself and the actual calculation where you do implement the steps involved.

    The first must be right to be worth any credit.

    I would say (albeit I tend to not agree) that the second being wrong because of clerical errors could be considered "not totally wrong".

    In real life, you answer needs to be right to be of any use. That is the most important thing for me.

    Part of my job has been for long time to run calculations involving business worth several digtis in US dollars. When things go wrong they have the bad habit to keep almost that number of digits (now with the oposite sign). So, go figure.

    While not strictly equivalent, there is the story of somebody from my ex-wife family that a certain day, as per instructions received from the main office, to buy shares, did exactly the oposite resulting in a tremendous (unexpected) benefit for the company.

    He was fired on the spot. "You could the same next time and we could loose a lot instead" was the reason given.

    Kind of + insead of -, eh?
     
  15. SgtWookie

    Expert

    Jul 17, 2007
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    In 1999, NASA lost a 125 million Mars orbiter because one engineering team used metric units while another used English units for a key spacecraft operation.

    For that reason, information failed to transfer between the Mars Climate Orbiter spacecraft team in Colorado and the mission navigation team in California.

    "People sometimes make errors," said Edward Weiler, NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Science in a written statement. "The problem here was not the error, it was the failure of NASAs systems engineering, and the checks and balances in our processes to detect the error. Thats why we lost the spacecraft."

    So instead of obtaining useful information from the orbiter, they bored a hole in the planet.

    Should the team still receive "credit" for that wrong answer?
     
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  16. #12

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    Nov 30, 2010
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    I remembered another event. It was algebra class. The answer was x-1/x.
    The teacher said that because I wrote the X standing alone larger than the X in the fraction, it must be a capital X and there are no capital X's in the problem, so the answer is wrong.

    That's what I call a real jerk.

    Well, actually I called him something that can't be presented here.
     
  17. steveb

    Senior Member

    Jul 3, 2008
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    I'll side with you to some extent, but before I do, I'll acknowledge SgtWookie's, someonesdad's and other's points as being very very important. In the real world, the right answer is critical.

    But there is another side to the story. First, students aren't working on real problems that have to be correct, or else life, limb and property are lost. Second, in the real world, problems are not solved in 15 minutes and there is adequate opportunity to check and recheck the answer and the method (which is just as important) and to work more methodically and sure-footedly with a calm mind, in the first place. Third, University courses often have 2 exams only with only 4 problems on each test. A student is capable of making one minor mistake on each exam, and they go from an A to a C in grade. If they make two minor mistakes on each exam, then they get an F. It seems unfair to me that a person who may know the material very well, but is a little absent minded, can fail. I say this because how do you compare this type of person with a slacker who fails because he put no effort in. This failure may even be the impetus to drive him/her out of school altogether either out of frustration or as university policy.

    The example I'll give is my sophomore year circuits class (simple RLC circuits and Laplace transforms). I knew the circuit material very well even before I went to university, but Laplace Transforms were new to me, and I studied hard on those. The first exam had a long drawn out calculation with LaPlace transforms. I did everything correctly over three pages of calculus and algebra. Halfway through, a quantity that was cubed in the denominator of a long expression got switched to be a square by accident (so a 3 became a 2 by typographical error). So, the final answer was correct with the exception of this 2 that should have been three. So, I received 0 out of 25 points for that problem and my grade was a C for this midterm exam. On the final exam, I made 2 similar mistakes and got 50/100, which is an F. So, my grade for the class was a D, which was unusual for me.

    I always felt that this grade of D did not reflect the knowledge I gained and the work I put into that class, but I didn't complain about it and never looked back. I now feel that I didn't need this D to understand the importance of getting the answer right, but who knows, maybe the lesson is buried deep and my mind, and the teacher's policy is correct.

    But the bottom line is that you can't fight the system. Just do your best and take your lumps when they come. When you don't give up, you always come out the winner.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011
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  18. atferrari

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 6, 2004
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    ASCII code for both is different. In a computer environment he could be just right about that.

    If we come simply to conventions in notation he would be also right... but hard to accept, I know.

    In the Naval academy we had a very strict lecturer (thermodynamics) who seemed close to ridiculous because of the exigences he imposed to show the resolution of problems.

    Years later I realized that he strongly influenced my way of solving problems (in my professional life as a seman) and in this hobby, basically by proceeding rigorously.

    And believe it or not, made my life easier.
     
  19. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    I was irritated because it wasn't in ASCII. It was in pencil. I believe he just made that up to be annoying.

    The answer really was x-1/x
    I did the work correctly and he could see it, right there on the paper.
    I knew the material and did not get credit for it.

    What was the point, if he had one? That if there are no capital letters in the question I should be careful not to invent variables that don't exist? When is the last time you used p = ie, wrote down P= 1/2 watt, and couldn't figure out what capital P means?
     
  20. Adjuster

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2010
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    Marking schemes for examinations are often quite explicit. In this country, at any rate, it is not that unusual to apportion some marks to the method followed, and some to the numerical answers. One can sometimes get details of how this was worked out for old papers. In principle such a scheme should lock out any personal bias, avoiding any unusual leniency or strictness on the part of whoever is doing the marking. This should work even in the case of an internal test where the student may be known to the examiner. Sadly, it does not always work out that way.

    Like all of us, teachers vary: some lenient, others strict but basically fair, but others are, well, otherwise. It can be hard to tell the difference when a student, and as some contributors have said, with hindsight the teachers' rigorous attitudes may be seen to be of benefit in preparing us for life's difficulties. I however can remember a teacher who always seemed to be trying to be unpleasant, something which went way beyond strict marking. Fortunately, this was in further education rather than school, as I can imagine him as a very enthusiastic exponent of corporal punishment, still very common in UK schools at that time.

    He seeme quite elderly to us, and often made derogatory statements about "the youth of today" (maybe 35 years ago).
    He then died, and we learned that although only in his fifties he had been ill for some time. It pains me a little to admit that on the whole, we were probably not sad to see him go. Now I realise that he had probably been in chronic pain, and that very possibly an industrial recession in the 1970s had forced him late in life into a teaching job that he did not want. All the same, I struggle to forgive him: his attitudes about standards laxer than his own may even have had some merit, but his focussed nastiness and clearly expressed disdain for his students were, I feel, quite inexcusable. It is strange to feel the anger rising in me after what must be the better part of forty years, but there we are.

    Recognising and dealing with genuine harshness or worse is difficult. Unless there is irrefutable evidence of some wrong-doing, I feel it may be better not to protest too much, but rather keep quiet for fear that a malicious teacher may redouble his attempts if he feels that his attacks have struck home. Is this cowardice? Perhaps this depends upon whether there is any realistic chance of making matters better rather than worse.
     
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