Much of evolution and natural selection can be summarized in three short words: “Life is games.” In any game, the object is to win—be that defined as leaving the most genes in the next generation, getting the best grade on a midterm, or successfully inculcating critical thinking into your students. In discussion section, they speculated, organized, and plotted. Would cooperation be rewarded or counter-productive? Would a large group work better, or smaller subgroups with specified tasks?
An entire field of study, Game Theory, is devoted to mathematically describing the games that nature plays. What about “scroungers” who didn’t study but were planning to parasitize everyone else’s hard work?
Option B: I would—sight unseen—shred the entire test.
Poof, the grade would disappear as if it had never happened. It was soon apparent that everyone had felt good about the process and their overall answers. Once again, the unity that arose through a diversity of opinion was right.
Allow them to do everything we would normally call cheating? ” One student immediately ran to the chalkboard, and she began to organize the outputs for each question section. Individuals within the Mob took turns writing paragraphs, and they all signed an author sheet to share the common grade.
A week before the test, I told my class that the Game Theory exam would be insanely hard—far harder than any that had established my rep as a hard prof. They could talk to each other or call friends who’d taken the course before. (I wouldn’t take them, but neither would I report it to the dean.) Only violations of state or federal criminal law such as kidnapping my dog, blackmail, or threats of violence were out of bounds. Three out of the 27 students opted out (I’ll call them the “Lone Wolves”).What I did was “flip the test.” Students were given all the intellectual tools beforehand and then, for an hour, they had to use them to generate well-reasoned answers to difficult questions.The best tests will not only find out what students know but also stimulate thinking in novel ways.Free Essay Network "Instant Essays is the newest and best database of FREE term paper, free essays, free research papers, free book reports and more on the Web. 5000 essays added." Offers 9,500 essays in 44 categories, .95 per year. Claims that "Evil House of Cheat is visited by approximately 2,000 students every day." Offers the book, "How to Cheat on Exams" for sale. Tests are really just measures of how the Education Game is proceeding. It transformed a class where many did not even speak to each other into a coherent whole focused on a single task—beating their crazy professor’s nefarious scheme. Weak ones were rejected, promising ones were developed. A schedule was established for writing the consensus answers.Professors test to measure their success at teaching, and students take tests in order to get a good grade. What if I let the students write their own rules for the test-taking game? On the day of the hour-long test they faced a single question: “If evolution through natural selection is a game, what are the players, teams, rules, objectives, and outcomes? (I remained in the room, hoping someone would ask me for my answers, because I had several enigmatic clues to divulge. ) As the test progressed, the majority (whom I shall call the “Mob”) decided to share one set of answers.Who isn’t amazed and entertained by videos of crafty animals, like Betty the tool-making crow, bending wires into hooks to retrieve baskets containing delicious mealworms?(And then hiding her rewards from a lummox of a mate who never works, but is all too good at purloining the hard-won rewards of others? Almost none of my students will go on to be “me”—a university professor who makes a living observing animals.But as recompense, for this one time only, students could cheat. Although the Wolves listened and contributed to discussions, they preferred their individual variants over the Mob’s joint answer.They could bring and use anything or anyone they liked, including animal behavior experts. In the end, the students learned what social insects like ants and termites have known for hundreds of millions of years.