The First-Year Composition Program at Oklahoma State University notes that an in-class exam must be administered during the University-assigned exam period. In an effort to make instruction and assessment more student-centered and to afford the students some agency in the class, a survey of student preferences for the FinEx was administered online, polling the sections of the course taught by Prof. Elliott. The results of that survey indicate that a majority of respondents (33 of 65 or 50.8%) preferred an extended version of the riddle quizzes that have been given throughout the semester. Accordingly, the FinEx will take said form for the sections of the class taught by Prof. Elliott.
Students in those sections will need to complete a number of individual tasks to negotiate the assignment successfully:
- Read the provided text,
- Proofread the provided text,
- Answer the provided text, and
- Explain the answer based on the information in the provided text.
Read the Provided Text
As with the riddle quizzes earlier in the semester, the FinEx will present students with a text—a riddle, likely drawn from a historical English-language source and adapted to reframe some cultural norms for ease of intelligibility. The first step in treating the FinEx will be to read the riddle, working first to make sense of the words-as-sounds in the order they are presented. The sounds of the words will be correct in the order presented.
Proofread the Provided Text
The text provided for the FinEx, as with the texts provided for the riddle quizzes, will contain errors of usage (as judged against dictates in the course handbook and expressed during class discussions throughout the term). The errors in the FinEx may be of more than one type, but any such errors will be reflective of errors observed among student writing throughout the term. (See Note 1, below.) The errors should be noted and appropriate corrections suggested, using the proofreading marks indicated in the back of the course textbook insofar as can be done. Proofreading factors into the grade assigned to the FinEx. Inappropriate corrections will be marked as errors, lowering the proofreading score.
Answer the Provided Text
The text provided for the FinEx is a riddle. It will explicitly call for a solution—“Say what I am.” An assertion should be made about what the thing described in the riddle is. This is not the same thing as addressing the proofreading corrections made to the text. The answer provided will serve as a sort of thesis for the explanation that follows, but the “correctness” of the answer given will not be considered as part of the FinEx grade.
Explain the Answer Given
After the text of the riddle is corrected and an answer to the riddle that constitutes the text is given, an explanation of that answer is needed. That is, how the text supports the answer needs to be expressed. Doing so will require specific reference to individual portions of the text and explication of how the information contained therein leads to the answer given. Both the provision of specific evidence and the effective explication thereof will factor into the grade assigned to the FinEx. Usage errors therein will lower the relevant scores.
Assessment of the FinEx will follow an amended version of that for the riddle quizzes. The correctness of the proofreading, quality and specificity of evidence, and thoroughness and mechanical correctness of the explication will each be holistically assessed, with scores coming from Table 2 in the course syllabus. The average of the proofreading, evidence, and explication scores will be reported as the FinEx grade.
- While there are limits to how effective study in advance of the FinEx can be, since the specific text to be treated will not be announced until the FinEx is distributed, students will be well served to look back at the coursework they have submitted during the term, noting the errors that have received comment on their reviewed assignments.
- The FinEx will be open book and open-note, but it will not be collaborative. Students found to be colluding risk summary failure of the class.
- Physical copies of the FinEx will be retained by the instructor. Students who wish to have copies of their exams and comments may make individual arrangements to retrieve them during the next regular term of instruction.
Geoffrey B. Elliott
20 November 2015
Updated to document general expectations.