Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I was very hurried as I was writing out the multiple-choice answers to the exam for my class this morning (I spent a lot of of the night working on my dissertation proposal draft), so they ended up with fewer questions worth more points, which scared them. However, I also accidentally left the answers actually within the text of a few of the questions. Sadly, as I have glanced over some of the tests to see how it went, I noticed that a student or two got some of those ones wrong anyway!

I told them before we began that if they saw anything strange about a question, they should not shout it out, but merely carry on. Furthermore, when they were expressing worry about how much each question was worth, I told them that this was a social science class, and if they didn't know what that meant for grading purposes, they should by now. And also to base predictions of my future grading behavior on my past grading behavior (which has been very forgiving). Why do they think I am going to be mean, when I haven't been up until now?

(Who knew my instructors probably weren't out to get me in undergrad, either?!)

From all appearances, I think the questions were relatively easy for those who attended class regularly, and insanely difficult for those who did not attend, which was pretty much my intent. There was no way one could guess about the details of some of the things we discussed in class.

For example:

In class we discussed a court case in Texas in which a man died while under medical treatment. Why does the insurance company say his wife cannot sue the medical establishment for wrongful death?

a. Since they had a common-law marriage, she has no grounds for a suit.
b. Since she has XY chromosomes, she is legally male and can’t therefore have been legally married to
another man, so has no grounds for a suit.
c. Since he was the insurance holder through his job, she has no grounds for a suit.

d. Since the couple was estranged for over a month when he fell ill, she has no grounds for a suit

The answer is "B"--the woman in question is transgendered, and the insurance company was positing that chromosomal sex is the be-all and end-all of deciding what sex a person is. Which, if you take my class, you will know is not true for a number of logical--though non-intuitive--reasons. We discussed how laws affecting the specific definition of marriage are not just semantic frippery, but affect real human beings in real, everyday situations.

But if someone had not been there for that discussion, it is highly unlikely that they would choose "B", don't you think? I've seen a few people choosing "C", which I think is a common strategy for when you don't know the answer.

Oh, grading. What a pain in the beehive. I really just want to give everyone As, except those people who started skipping all the time.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

That actually sounds like a fun class! Ethics are obnoxious to legislate, but fun to debate.