Plentyoffish dating forums are a place to meet singles and get dating advice or share dating experiences etc. Hopefully you will all have fun meeting singles and try out this online dating thing... Remember that we are the largest free online dating service, so you will never have to pay a dime to meet your soulmate.
     
Show ALL Forums  > Science/philosophy  > The wrong answer      Home login  
 AUTHOR
 ea®ly
Joined: 11/7/2006
Msg: 2
The wrong answerPage 1 of 4    (1, 2, 3, 4)
Excellent post, this reminds me of Edward deBono's books on lateral thinking, ...cool.


A merchant who owes money to a money lender agrees to settle the debt based upon the choice of two stones (one black, one white) from a money bag. If his daughter chooses the white stone, the debt is canceled; if she picks the black stone, the moneylender gets the merchant's daughter. However, the moneylender "fixes" the outcome by putting two black stones in the bag. The daughter sees this and when she picks a stone out of the bag, immediately drops it onto the path full of other stones. She then points out that the stone she picked must have been the opposite color of the one remaining in the bag. Unwilling to be unveiled as dishonest, the moneylender must agree and cancel the debt.

~ DeBono, E. (1967). New Think: The Use of Lateral Thinking in the Generation of New Ideas.
 coveredinpaint
Joined: 7/13/2009
Msg: 3
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/14/2010 2:10:41 PM
Then the money lender pulls out the remaining stone only to drop it amongst the myriad of other stones. And since neither party can determine which stone was chosen by whom, then neither the daughter is handed over, nor is the debt canceled. And they end up back where they started.
 SoftAndHappy
Joined: 6/15/2009
Msg: 4
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/14/2010 2:16:46 PM
I like this thread. I'm not sure that I have much to add... but I want to comment to keep track of it.
 endlesslift
Joined: 12/31/2009
Msg: 5
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/14/2010 2:23:08 PM
They are all good answers but the test question should be worded differently if the techur expects to have someone use air pressure to measure the building.
 CountIbli
Joined: 6/1/2005
Msg: 7
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/14/2010 10:31:29 PM
One question I've frequently seen on math and IQ tests starts by listing 4 or 5 numbers and then asking what the next number in the sequence is. The correct answer is any number at all. But that is never an option.

Consider the sequence 1, 2, 3, 4

The obvious answer will be 5. But can other answers be justified? Certainly. I say the next number is 125. The sequence follows the formula n+n(n-1)(n-2)(n-3)(n-4).

These types of question never give any kind of constraints on what kinds of sequences the test maker is allowing.
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 8
view profile
History
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/15/2010 4:25:46 AM

This is a fabricated, but cute story....
Sounds a bit like me. I remember when I was in university, we were all appointed mentors from the members of the faculty. I went to see my mentor, and he commented that on one homework question, I answered it totally unlike the way everyone else did. I asked him if it was wrong. He said it was not wrong, just different to everyone else.

There were times in school when I thought my teachers were not very open-minded about alternative answers to test question. Nowadays, students just seem to want to know how to answer the exam questions. Are the two are related?
Nope. I don't know if you know what teachers are like nowadays. But I would imagine that you had some idea of what the other students were like in your class in school. If students only wanted to know how to answer the exam questions back then as well, I think you would not have included the word "nowadays", as that implies that kids are only like that now. So I gather it's your experience that back when you were in school, students didn't just want to know how to answer the exam questions.

So, what it seems to me, is that in your experience, when teachers were not very open-minded, the kids were open-minded. So there is no correlation.

However, that leaves us with a question, what is correlated with the rise in students only wanting to know how to answer exam questions? Well, we can look at it much simpler. What would give students the idea that only knowing how to answer exam questions would give them a significant advantage in life? Well, if people who had passed lots of exams and had lots of qualifications, but had absolutely no personal knowledge or skill in the subjects they studied, became very wealthy, and people who had incredible amounts of personal knowledge and skill in those subjects, but had no qualifications, were never given a decent job, then that would suggest that your future income and lifestyle is not improved by actually knowing the subjects at all, and is improved greatly by having qualifications for passing exams, even if you cannot remember a single thing on those exams. Is that true?

Are there lots of people with degrees earning lots of money but who really aren't all that knowledgeable about their own degree?
Are there lots of people who are really smart and knowledgeable but don't have a degree on minimum wage?

I think you know the answer to these questions.
 xlr8ingmargo
Joined: 7/28/2009
Msg: 9
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/15/2010 5:28:57 AM
Well if any student can come up with a reasonable, creative, yet original response, that is outside the box, I feel they should get credit for it. It's obvious the student has knowledge of physics or he wouldn't be in that class in the first place. Example:
someone like me would never take physics cause I'd be in detention...
 CountIbli
Joined: 6/1/2005
Msg: 10
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/15/2010 7:22:39 AM
I've found that teachers are pretty open to alternative answers. For example, I had a professor who gave us a math problem that required us to prove a number of statements about a certain class of functions. I'd actually seen a proof for them before so I rushed to the library and looked it up. Unfortunately I didn't understand the standard proof, so I felt guilty about using it as my answer. So I spent about 14 hours coming up with my own proof. A few days later when he was going over the homework with us he quickly presented the standard proof, then announced that I had a different proof that he liked much better and went on to explain it to the class.
 impohell
Joined: 1/7/2010
Msg: 11
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/15/2010 7:48:02 AM
The intention of education is to impart knowledge and to foster the ability to create, acquire and use knowledge. Sometimes in that process there are instructions to solve problems, those being a way to apply knowledge. Being sick and tired of school happens. Expressing that tedium can turn the methods of education back on itself rebelliously, resentfully, impudently. But for the previous schooling that impertinence would be limited to a wordless gesture or a sullen scowl. The teacher and the student can both be happy about this kind of skirmish. School does get tiring, as does being asked to solve problems, and perhaps especially once that newly acquired capacity to solve problems is turned toward the problem of being tired of schooling.
 b0rg
Joined: 12/14/2007
Msg: 13
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/16/2010 10:11:10 AM
H. G. Lucky (Message 9) is absolutely on the mark. This urban myth is constructed only to perpetuate the false notion that Academia is lacking in “critical thinking”.

The irony is that the story itself actually demonstrates how the student lacks a lot of “critical thinking” in his/her haste to best “the system”. (H.G. Lucky (Messages 9 and 12) has touched upon a few of the oversights on the fictitious student’s part.) If anything the student showed how little he/she understood about the physical world and how to apply the knowledge of physics. The student’s answers are not worth even a passing grade (let alone full marks.)

Niels Bohr would not have submitted solutions so problematic (which is further proof of the contrived nature of this tale.)

You have engaged The B0rg
“Resistance is Futile”
 b0rg
Joined: 12/14/2007
Msg: 14
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/16/2010 2:31:00 PM
The student did not adequately think through the solutions. He or she fails because of that (and not because of the “obvious” reason).
.
.
.
Some Specific Answers…


Msg 23

If this is true then the education system fails. The exam question should have then said something like "what is the conventional way..." then.

Lol. This is why those who believe that the student actually applied adequate critical thinking do not appreciate how and why the “solutions” were unworthy.

The exam question didn’t ask for the conventional way, nor was it implied in any way that the “conventional” way is the only way. However, if we were to allow all possible solutions (including ones that do not demonstrate knowledge of physics and what solutions are most reasonable) then ANY solution would be allowed. That would include waiting for the answer to fall out of the sky because a butterfly flapped its wings 3,000 km away.

Now… one more try at it… why did the student fail?

The education system does not fail because the student was originally failed, and the mythology does not support such a claim. The “system” provides a more focused environment to both impart learning skills as well as allow one’s “critical thinking” to develop. (Note that The Collective has neither said nor eluded that “critical thinking” is innate or not.)


Msg 23

Furthermore how does one know what Niels Bohr would do? Did he say that himself?

RoFl. That’s pretty weak.

It is reasonable to suggest that a person gifted enough to be eventually recognized by a coveted award would not have been foolish enough to make the mistakes that the fictitious student did. Such an argument is merely a plea to ignorance at best. This would be equivalent to exonerating the student because we can’t assume that he could read or understand spoken words. Please.


Msg 23

There's more than one way to skin a cat.

That is merely stating the obvious (and does not critical thinking involving seeing beyond “the obvious?”) We are all aware of that.


Msg 23

There's more than one way to critically think.

Really? Technically, you are either critically thinking or you are not. There’s really on “one way” to have critically thought. There are successful and unsuccessful outcomes, sufficient or insufficient application, but the act of thinking critical either happens or it doesn’t. As far as applying enough critical thinking… well that is difference between pass and fail.


Msg 23

I had a friend who stated that 'cheating' was just another way of using critical thinking. If the end goal is achievable then by whatever means achieve it.

The fictitious student fails mainly because he or she could not see beyond this stage. Think about it (critically, of course.)


Msg 23

Where the 'system' fails is in its elitism. The system looks for a certain individual that thinks a certain way. The system also tries to force certain persons to think like the person who excels within the system. Obviously at the detriment of minds not geared towards thinking in the way the system demands one to think.

Nope.

The problem presented to the student does not limit him or her to merely re-iterating the common approach. If one truly applies critical thinking, as H.G. Lucky did, they would understand why the student should receive a failing grade.

Many immediately assume that those who deem the student a failure are “only denying the student’s creative approach or approaches”. They are wrong. See the problem and the solutions the student presented and understand why his actions are telling of insufficient critical thinking.

If the student had truly demonstrated commendable critical thinking, then full marks would have been awarded.


Msg 23

The result is a pedagogy that stifles creativity largely for a constrained version of 'critical thinking'. To that I say consider Richard Feynman:

Sadly, the result is often disappointment when students cannot rise to the occasion, and instead, blame the system.

The fictional student was given a second chance to demonstrate sufficient critical thinking, and still did not make the grade (Once again, tear away from the “obvious” and discover why the student is a failure.)


Msg 23

Please note 're-creating' and 'utilizing his own notation'. Isn't this similar to the young man in quietjohn's story who wished to deliver more colorful answers. For didn't the young man come up with different and applicable ways of answering the exam question?

Feynman would likely fail the student too (and The B0rg doesn’t have to have actual quotes from him either.)

Think of the difference between the two scenarios (and not the obvious again.) This is not denigration. It is a chance to re-examine the situation.


Msg 23

As a former student there is more motivation to… …our creativity!

The opportunities to “think outside the box” exist. It even existed in that piece of fiction. If students only see the experience as “spoon feed and spoon back”, perhaps there was not enough critical thinking applied.
.
.
.
The student did not adequately think through the solutions. He or she fails because of that (and not because of the “obvious” reason).

You have engaged The B0rg
“Resistance is Futile”

 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 15
view profile
History
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/16/2010 5:29:41 PM
RE Msg: 25 by b0rg:
Lol. This is why those who believe that the student actually applied adequate critical thinking do not appreciate how and why the “solutions” were unworthy.

The exam question didn’t ask for the conventional way, nor was it implied in any way that the “conventional” way is the only way. However, if we were to allow all possible solutions (including ones that do not demonstrate knowledge of physics and what solutions are most reasonable) then ANY solution would be allowed. That would include waiting for the answer to fall out of the sky because a butterfly flapped its wings 3,000 km away.
From what I remember from taking exams, the student would normally be marked down for not giving the expected answer. However, if he chose to contest the answer, he would get most of the marks for answering the question correctly.

In all the exams that I sat, we were marked for 2 things:
1) Getting a correct answer to the question.
2) Showing your working out, that your reasoning would allow you to arrive at the correct answer.

In my day, this would NOT have been a question in an exam. A typical question would give appropriate values, so that a quantitative answer could be determined, and the student could thus be tested on his ability to determine a result accurately.

THIS question tests the student on 3 things:
1) His knowledge that atmospheric pressure is related to altitude.
2) His knowledge that barometers measure atmospheric pressure.

However, without appropriate figures, the student is not being asked to demonstrate his knowledge of the formula that calculates altitude from atmospheric pressure. So the student still does not demonstrate appropriate knowledge that is required in practical applications of his knowledge of atmospheric pressure.

The student is equally not being tested appropriately on his knowledge about barometers. In a real-life situation, a scientist will have many tools to hand. Only one will be a barometer. So there is no need to even use a barometer at all.

Moreover, unless the barometer is incredibly accurate, the result will not be all that accurate. It's an inappropriate form of measurement for measuring the height of a building.

This question is really a test of the student's aptitude in being given a set of tools, and being expected to determine the height of a building, but only in the ways that his employer wants him to use. It's NOT a test of the student's ability in making scientific conclusions. It's a test of the student's ability to divine the intentions of his employer, and to follow those intentions.

It's intended to test students, if they will be able to cope with supervisors who will delegate particular responsibilities to students, but who are NOT clear about their intentions, if those students can divine their intentions, without having to actually ask for clarity.

However, in reality, there is no right way. No supervisor hands you a barometer and asks you to find out the height of a building. You will be given access to a variety of tools, and then you will be expected to follow the methods you have been taught by your supervisor. However, if you have an equally accurate way, a good supervisor does not care how you achieved the result. He just wants to know it's accurate, and done in the quickest and cheapest way. If you have a supervisor who expects you to do things in a certain way, and isn't clear about that, then you have a bad supervisor. He will then be just as inclined to hand you a barometer, but expect you to use a laser sighting tool to take measurements, and will then find he doesn't get what he wanted anyway.

So this method of teaching is just going to encourage students to make unconfirmed assumptions about the needs of their supervisors. That will equally encourage lazy supervisors, who are not clear about their intentions, to become even more lazy. As a result, they will become even more unclear. That will result in serious errors. Errors like these cost lives. They are to be avoided.

IMHO, this student was correct in answering in an unexpected way, as it highlights a serious flaw in the question. That would hopefully highlight a flaw in the proper planning of the examiner who drew up the exam, and cause him to be scrutinised, to draw up more accurate exam questions in the future.

If this scrutiny does not happen, then lazy, unclear supervisors get more lazy, and more unclear, and then errors are made, and lives are lost as a result. This is something we want to avoid.
 1honestfrenchman
Joined: 1/22/2007
Msg: 16
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/16/2010 11:43:23 PM
Brightspark,

msg 16

You're absolutely right 100%. It's copy and past on the exam and if you don't do that you're deemed a failure or classified as being slow, having "learning disabilities". The education "system" is the biggest joke ever. It's all left brain thinking. Anybody can regurgitate what they read in the books they give you in school.
 b0rg
Joined: 12/14/2007
Msg: 17
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/17/2010 11:42:21 PM
The question facilitated a simpler path, or a more treacherous one. The choice was that of the student’s. Once the choice was made, the student fails his own challenge. The option to apply critical thinking was there in either case.
.
.
.
Some Specific answers to Msg 28…


Msg 28

From what I remember from taking exams, the student would normally be marked down for not giving the expected answer. However, if he chose to contest the answer, he would get most of the marks for answering the question correctly.

Certainly… The expected solution is usually the most appropriate solution. This doesn’t mean other solutions are not evaluated, but in examination scenarios, there is rarely ambiguity as to what is the best one. Students have opportunity to contest the ranking of their own solution. It is this challenge that the “barometer student” failed.


Msg 28

In all the exams that I sat, we were marked for 2 things:
1) Getting a correct answer to the question.
2) Showing your working out, that your reasoning would allow you to arrive at the correct answer.

Yes. The correct answer (even a pure guess) was usually worth 50%. A wrong guess received a big fat ZERO. Showing your work, if meaningful, logical and complete, would earn 95% (even if the final result was omitted).


Msg 28

However, without appropriate figures, the student is not being asked to demonstrate his knowledge of the formula that calculates altitude from atmospheric pressure. So the student still does not demonstrate appropriate knowledge that is required in practical applications of his knowledge of atmospheric pressure.

Aside from the general range of values to be expected (of which the effectiveness of methods will have dependency), the actual data is moot. The exercise is all about how a barometer is to be employed to recover the height of a given object (likely in the general range of 200m-500m) In that sense, an understanding of how pressure is related to altitude, and how the given instrumentation can be used to leverage that (or other physical attributes) is being evaluated. This includes an understanding of the relative reliability and the effectiveness of any given approach (including melting down the barometer’s metal and turning it into a measuring chain).


Msg 28

The student is equally not being tested appropriately on his knowledge about barometers. In a real-life situation, a scientist will have many tools to hand. Only one will be a barometer. So there is no need to even use a barometer at all.

On the contrary, the student was absolutely being evaluated on basic familiarity with barometers (including sensitivity and calibration) and how they function. If one wants to introduce “real life”…In “real life” situations, the height of the skyscraper would likely already be known (unless it was built by some outfit that felt measuring tapes etc. were too “inside the box”.)

Of course, that isn’t the point. In “real life”, constraints are “real” and one may actually not be able to use the “most accurate” method. They may find themselves having to evaluate whether or not a barometer is an appropriate alternative to a solution.


Msg 28

Moreover, unless the barometer is incredibly accurate, the result will not be all that accurate. It's an inappropriate form of measurement for measuring the height of a building.

The barometer doesn’t have to be incredibly accurate. It only has to be accurate enough to yield more accuracy than that of other available solutions. When we factor in the cost (both in time and actual currency) of other solutions, one may find the barometric approach to not be that bad at all. H.G. Lucky already pointed out the flaws in one of the student’s solutions. We leave it as an exercise in “critical thinking” for all viewers to see the flaws in the others (or if other solutions may have yielded similar results.)

Incidentally, even a rather inexpensive barometric altimeter (hundreds of dollars) is probably accurate to a foot or two… the “drop the barometer and time it’s fall” solution given wouldn’t be remotely as accurate (or consistent in result)... and very costly on repeated measurement.


Msg 28

This question is really a test of the student's aptitude in being given a set of tools, and being expected to determine the height of a building, but only in the ways that his employer wants him to use. It's NOT a test of the student's ability in making scientific conclusions. It's a test of the student's ability to divine the intentions of his employer, and to follow those intentions.

The initial problem was strictly about the science behind the tool. It was a test on the student’s ability to make scientific conclusions in that scope.

The moment the student stepped beyond the usual boundary of “the box” he or she introduced more encompassing science as well as the “politics” (that would be the money, the boss, etc.) On his/her own volition, the test was now expanded to one of evaluating a larger realm of science, determining a cost effective method as well as selling that method to the client.

This is where the failure occurred.

Because the student was unable to demonstrate how and why his/her solutions were chosen over the “text book” solution, no passing grade can be granted.


Msg 28

It's intended to test students, if they will be able to cope with supervisors who will delegate particular responsibilities to students, but who are NOT clear about their intentions, if those students can divine their intentions, without having to actually ask for clarity.

The problem was intended to only examine the students understanding of the relationship between pressure and altitude as it pertains to the typical conditions near the ground. As instruments or tools are generally designed for a specialized purpose, the likelihood of the tool being well suited for other applications is unlikely. One may choose to use a textbook as a plumb bob… but used as a textbook when a text book is part of a competing solution is the prudent option.

Yet the student, likely due to contempt, decided to challenge the question… If one is bold enough to raise the stakes, they must equally raise their game… or fail.

As far as testing the ability to cope with unclear direction, the higher educational experience itself provides such a dilemma. The educational path is the choice of the student (well at least in the free world). Coping with vagueness and conflicting data is what living in the “real world” teaches all humans (aside from those living extremely sheltered lives.)


Msg 28

However, in reality, there is no right way. No supervisor hands you a barometer and asks you to find out the height of a building. You will be given access to a variety of tools, and then you will be expected to follow the methods you have been taught by your supervisor. However, if you have an equally accurate way, a good supervisor does not care how you achieved the result. He just wants to know it's accurate, and done in the quickest and cheapest way.

Nope. This is really just a deflection. To examine particular abilities, examinations are necessarily in controlled conditions. One isolates interference to examine particular attributes. Incidentally, if the test was designed as a “real life” test from the outset, it would have all the vagueness and contradiction that comes with “real life”. If one is arguing that this test should have been closer to a real life test, the more controlled test still has to be completed before such an in-situ test is undertaken. No live ammo until the student can demonstrate he or she will not end up shooting his own foot, team mate, instructor, lunchbox, etc…

Even “access to a variety of tools” may be constrained by availability of such tools in “real life”. Also the in-situ scenario may preclude the use of all manner of other options save that of a handy barometer. The test, at its elemental level, has a limited family of “right” solutions. Once the student decides to lift the constraints, more members are introduced, but they each still have a rank order.


Msg 28

If you have a supervisor who expects you to do things in a certain way, and isn't clear about that, then you have a bad supervisor. He will then be just as inclined to hand you a barometer, but expect you to use a laser sighting tool to take measurements, and will then find he doesn't get what he wanted anyway.

Not necessarily. The constraint of time or resources (there’s that “real life” creeping in again) often precludes overseers from sharing reasons on why engagement rules are in place. Project complexity may also be a factor. Not having shared such details does not make a supervisor “bad.” The details may also be available if one is willing to do their own research.

There will be instances where a barometer is the optimal solution. Laser sighting, active radar, optical or mechanical methods may all be precluded by environmental or engagement conditions. Again, there’s that “real life” creeping in.


Msg 28

So this method of teaching is just going to encourage students to make unconfirmed assumptions about the needs of their supervisors.

Nope. If the examination is to be treated at that level of “reality”, the contrary is true. In “real life” access to executive reasoning is, more often than not, limited. Having to “decide the best fit” with minimal instruction and data is a useful skill. Hence encouraging students to successfully “read between the lines” and knowing when and what to ask or answer, is essentially encouraging “critical thinking.” CoolNomad gets it.


Msg 28

That will equally encourage lazy supervisors, who are not clear about their intentions, to become even more lazy. As a result, they will become even more unclear. That will result in serious errors. Errors like these cost lives. They are to be avoided.

We do not doubt that in “real life”, some supervisors will use opportunities to be vague to feed personal lethargy. However, this has a tenuous connection to the student’s ability to ascertain what is critical to the problem at hand.

At the very least, the prime directive of the student is to pass the examination. Once that is achieved, he or she may elect to point out alleged flaws in the examination (be it to “educate” the educator or just to feel superior,) the environmental unfriendliness of the paper used, the font size, the venue, etc. However, if one’s solution neither accomplishes the main goal nor the secondary one, the outcome is pure failure.

Similarly, a subordinate’s primary role is to carry out orders. There does exist an objective to improve the performance of supervisors, the overall organization’s success, as well as “save lives” if jeopardy is detected. However, unless the subordinate can clearly justify his or her action to forgo the expected solution, such actions are purely that of insubordination (and that rarely goes unpunished.)

The fictional student never justified his or her departure from the conventional. Therefore, the student fails.


Msg 28

IMHO, this student was correct in answering in an unexpected way, as it highlights a serious flaw in the question.

Are we to also specify that the building is on Earth? Please.

There is only as much a “serious flaw” in the question as the questioned chose to see. Context is critical to understanding. To expect portable, exact and unambiguous detail beyond the situation is literally asking to be “spoon fed”. The framework (that of a physic’s exam and a question involving a barometer,) surrounding the question was adequate to determine intent. It would be like handing a Patrolman a long expired driver’s license in lieu of the current one when asked for “Driver’s license please”. “But Officer, you never specified my CURRENT license.” Just how much latitude will one expect there?

Certainly the student can choose to see the question as “determine the relative cost-benefit of using a barometer to measure the height of a tall building.” As explained, expanding the question to this level requires a solution of more than just suggesting an alternative path. One must now explain WHY the path was chosen over the conventional one. If not, one has not accomplished the task he or she has given themselves.

If anything, the question, as posed, is valid on multiple levels and the story highlights the folly of underestimating the level of battle one has chosen. This is true for the fictional student, the guy who is now wondering why he is now undergoing a 3 hour vehicle search, and those who still believe that the conventional answer precludes critical thinking.


Msg 28

That would hopefully highlight a flaw in the proper planning of the examiner who drew up the exam, and cause him to be scrutinised, to draw up more accurate exam questions in the future.

Exam questions, even if not originally well planned, evolve to be so after a couple of iterations.

There is nothing in the story that would indicate improper planning on the part of the examiner. It was appropriately worded within the context of the test. “Cute” answers like these are seen more often than one thinks. If the answer included detail and analyses commensurate to the challenge, full marks are awarded. If the alternate answer is not accompanied by reasoning as to why it was chosen over others, then it is deemed unsupported. Should that answer not be as reasonable as the conventional solution, it gets that “big fat ZERO”.

Once more, this is why the fictional student fails.


Msg 28

If this scrutiny does not happen, then lazy, unclear supervisors get more lazy, and more unclear, and then errors are made, and lives are lost as a result. This is something we want to avoid.

“Real life” impresses upon us that even a well-planned specification can contain ambiguity, incomplete direction or conflicting direction. Critical thinking skills will help a subordinate determine what needs to be clarified and what is implied. Knowledge of scope may aid in ascertaining what and why (or why not) certain constraints exist.

There are many factors to consider in determining whether or not a supervisor will fall into the spiral of becoming lazier and lazier. There are many “political” reasons as to why incompetence persists, but these things are wholly beyond a discussion around the failure of the “barometer student.” Introducing the objective to “teach” the system is only avoiding answering the question in the first place. If the student successfully answered the question first, he or she may be entertained in that regard. However, failing the question in its most basic form, is failing the prerequisite to an audience on a higher level.

Trite responses to exam questions that betray more about a contemptuous attitude will jeopardize project performance more than having to deal with specifications that require clarity. Think about it. A lazy buffoon of a supervisor is far easier to manipulate than a sub or co-worker that always thinks they know better than you (yet is not introspective enough to realize that it is not so.)
.
.
.
The question facilitated a simpler path, or a more treacherous one. The choice was that of the student’s. Once the choice was made, the student fails his own challenge. The option to apply critical thinking was there in either case.

You have engaged The B0rg
“Resistance is Futile”
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 18
view profile
History
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/18/2010 12:06:47 PM
RE Msg: 34 by exogenist:

It's intended to test students, if they will be able to cope with supervisors who will delegate particular responsibilities to students, but who are NOT clear about their intentions
Whether their intentions are clear or not a student has to forgo creative thinking for the thinking that will deliver wanted answers to pass and pass only. Knowing how to answer exam questions achieves this.
That was my point. It's a method of training people to follow orders, and keep their own creative solutions to themselves.

RE Msg: 35 by b0rg:

From what I remember from taking exams, the student would normally be marked down for not giving the expected answer. However, if he chose to contest the answer, he would get most of the marks for answering the question correctly.
Certainly… The expected solution is usually the most appropriate solution. This doesn’t mean other solutions are not evaluated, but in examination scenarios, there is rarely ambiguity as to what is the best one.
Actually, the expected solution is often NOT the most approrpiate solution, not unless the question is selected very carefully, to match situations in which it would be the best solution. That's dependent on the skill of the examiner to design appropriate questions. If the student can find another way to solve the problem, then the examiner has failed at his responsibility.

Students have opportunity to contest the ranking of their own solution. It is this challenge that the “barometer student” failed.
WE don't know that. The example doesn't say if the student contested the case or not. Even then, he's not being tested on his ability to challenge authority, not in an educational environment, not purposely anyway. If he does, and the examiner is wrong, we don't commend the student, because we're not trying to get the student to challenge authority. We tell the examiner that he didn't do his job properly, and this is his first warning. 2 more and he gets the sack. We don't benefit from having idiots as examiners.


In all the exams that I sat, we were marked for 2 things:
1) Getting a correct answer to the question.
2) Showing your working out, that your reasoning would allow you to arrive at the correct answer.
Yes. The correct answer (even a pure guess) was usually worth 50%. A wrong guess received a big fat ZERO. Showing your work, if meaningful, logical and complete, would earn 95% (even if the final result was omitted).
In exams, 70% is the working out, 20% is for the right answer, and 10% is for style, clarity and things like that. If you get the right answer, but do not show valid reasoning, then you get 20%. If you show valid reasoning, but do not get the right answer, then you still get 80%. If you show valid reasoning, and get the right answer from it, but it's not the way the examiner expected, then you'll lose maybe 5%. But if you demonstrate clarity, then you should still get 95%. However, you can contest even that, if the exam question can be answered by your method, and if you do, you can get 100%.

One thing teachers teach you about passing exams, is to always read the question very carefully. If your method does answer the question, then it's a valid answer. If the examiner expected a different method, then he should have written a better question, one that excluded any other method from achieving the right answer.

However, without appropriate figures, the student is not being asked to demonstrate his knowledge of the formula that calculates altitude from atmospheric pressure. So the student still does not demonstrate appropriate knowledge that is required in practical applications of his knowledge of atmospheric pressure.

H.G. Lucky already pointed out the flaws in one of the student’s solutions. We leave it as an exercise in “critical thinking” for all viewers to see the flaws in the others (or if other solutions may have yielded similar results.)
Here is one exercise in "critical thinking". Barometers measure atmospheric pressure. You can see the formula here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barometric_formula
The formula is a geometric progression, that would require a calculator or some seriuously complex calculations to get the height.
Further, it depends on the temperature, in a non-linear way.
So it's a very unreliable way to calculate height.

Basic trigonometry is actually a far more reliable method, using a theodolite. That's what we use.

Any surveyor or building contractor or architect caught using a barometer, would be fired.

However, there IS a place when atmospheric pressure is used to measure height, and that's in the altimeter of a plane.

An appropriate question would be:

"You're in an unpressurised plane. Your altimeter breaks. You have a barometer and a scientific calculator, along with some pen and paper. Explain how you would use the barometer to calculate the altitude of the plane."

That WOULD be a valid question, as you cannot just go and get some rope, or a theodolite, or anything else on a plane, not until it lands. You are forced to rely on the barometer to calculate the atmospheric pressure, and to use that information to calculate the altitude. That's a valid question.

If the examiner HAD asked that question, then he would be entitled to point out that the other methods cannot be used. But the examiner didn't critical thinking to develop an appropriate question. That is the fault of the examiner.

However, there are a lot of teachers who get extremely angry when their more able students come up with questions they are too lazy to think of. That's laziness on the part of those educators. Lazy educators produce lazy students. Lazy students become lazy employees. Lazy employees cut corners, miss many things, and build things to the wrong specifications. Then lives are lost as a result.

If we want people to die, and we want unthinking morons making the decisions on which our lives hang, then we are better off marking the student down. If we want people to live, and we want people to make accurate decisions on the things that determine our safety, we'd be better off giving the examiner a serious dressing down.

You have engaged Logic.
“Resistance is Futile"
 2ears1mouth
Joined: 7/13/2009
Msg: 19
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/18/2010 1:14:42 PM
Good one, quietjohn2!

I'd certainly have given the student credit. Maybe even extra credit. I remember when I was an atmospheric science teaching assistant grading papers one student answered a question that related to conditions conducive to severe weather "take cover and pray." I gave him credit, and seem to recall writing a comment along the lines of "good one." He obviously understood the concept.

Actually, as pointed out, what might have been the "right" answer (using atmospheric pressure changes) appeared to be truly wrong, due to lack of sufficient information, such as temperature, humidity, elevation at ground level, etc.

The story Early posted about the rocks in a bag is an excellent example of the "chess player's" mentality in action. Definitely got a kick out of that one!
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 21
view profile
History
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/18/2010 2:05:29 PM
RE Msg: 40 by quietjohn2:
Jeeze, guys - it's only a FABRICATION! I'd have to agree with Paul (for once!)
Since it is a fabrication, the ambiguity of the question is as dubious as its answer - and likely designed to be so for the benefit of the story. There are as many flaws in it as in any of the answers.
That's entirely right. However, it is an allegory that speaks about certain types of people, namely Judging types in the Jungian MBTI framework, as opposed to Perceiving types. Judging types tend to say there is one way to do something, but when given a way to do something, they tend to follow it to the hilt. Perceiving types tend to see lots of ways to do something, but tend to be weak on execution for the same reason. Ps tend to be more useful as thinkers and troubleshooters. Js tend to be more useful as decision makers, and followers. Each have their uses.

When it comes to education, we have to decide what type of education we want to foist onto people.
Js do well from a little P-ness. It balances them out. But too much P-ness, and they feel lost. With too many decisions, they feel unsure which way to act, and become impotent to act.
Ps do well from a little J-ness. It balances them out. But too much J-ness, and they feel trapped. With too few options, they feel that no option is good to act on, and become impotent to act.
We need to suit education to the needs of people.
 GGarbo
Joined: 10/8/2007
Msg: 22
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/18/2010 4:36:26 PM
What if the person he questioned about the height of the building could not prove how he knew the height of building or had reasons to lie about it?

Perhaps their is a bylaw that will have negative impact if the Super answered truthfully or perhaps he's just daft? The issue is, you need to re-examine evidence to find out the truth for yourself using the best methods available.

If using a string works...it works but if there is a better way covered in the curriculum...no, he does not get full points because he came up with a half assed answer. We already have enough people capable of the half assed ruling the world, we don't need anymore.
 2ears1mouth
Joined: 7/13/2009
Msg: 23
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/18/2010 5:04:48 PM
Coolnomad, it was a long time ago, but the answer pertained to effects, rather then causes, and "take cover and pray" very clearly conveyed understanding of the question within its context.

I don't have disdain for higher education, but I do have disdain for being a stodgy, humorless, uptight attitudes, at least within a context of dealing with people. As a TA I encouraged people to have fun with the material, and it certainly appeared to work.
 2ears1mouth
Joined: 7/13/2009
Msg: 24
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/19/2010 1:30:16 AM
Nah, I didn't give him candy, not on a TA's stipend. Then I wouldn't have had enough money for pizza....
 Ahron123
Joined: 10/16/2009
Msg: 25
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/19/2010 6:58:41 PM
When a lecturer is deciding weather to allow a student to graduate, they need to consider:

"does this student understand the concepts he/she was taught, and If I send this student out into the world with a degree that says he is capable of doing his job, will it come back to haunt me?"

That is the lectures call, and it's a tough one! The student did display critical thinking and problem solving skill, but he/she DID NOT display an understanding of the course material - and for that reason, the student ran the risk of failing.

If that risk took this risk by choice then, in my opinion, he/she is an idiot. On the other hand, If the student really is that unique in the way they think, then that kind of poses a dilemma for the lecturer, doesn't it? One thing is for sure though, the lecturer would be irresponsible to pass them without further investigation.
 b0rg
Joined: 12/14/2007
Msg: 26
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/19/2010 11:12:56 PM
Please reread the part about “context”. The simple approach would be to use the barometer as a barometer. Again, (yes again), if the student elects to introduce alternate methods (and that is an option), and by so doing, raise the expectations, then the onus is on him or her to demonstrate why his or her solutions are superior to the conventional. Also, one must remember that the constraints of “real life” may preclude other options. This has been explained.

The Collective only has to illuminate it for those who can see it (that includes all of Katharine and Isabel’s categories)
.
.
.
Some specific answers to Msg 36…


Msg 36

Actually, the expected solution is often NOT the most approrpiate solution, not unless the question is selected very carefully, to match situations in which it would be the best solution.

Really? The conventional solution is often not the most appropriate. We believe you’d have a hard time selling that story. The barometer was “selected” carefully enough. The “cute” answers were not.

When a client asks for a widget, the most appropriate solution is, if there is no further clarification to understand the client’s needs, to assume you know better about his needs and hand him a whatzit. ROFLMAO. Come now. You are purposely missing the point about how it was the student that elected to “raise the problem to a new level” and assume that conditions favoured an unconventional solution.

In the case of “choice of solution”, the student neither queried for more details nor supplied the assumptions he was making. How are the student’s solutions “better solutions”? Most offered less precision, were slave to more constraints, and required far more material and effort to get a result. It is the student that neglected to “carefully select” his answer that fails him. (Let see if one actually addresses this point…)


Msg 36

That's dependent on the skill of the examiner to design appropriate questions. If the student can find another way to solve the problem, then the examiner has failed at his responsibility.

Please reread the part about “context”. The simple approach would be to use the barometer as a barometer. Again, (yes again), if the student elects to introduce alternate methods (and that is an option), then the onus is on him or her to demonstrate why that option is superior to the conventional. Also, one must remember that the constraints of “real life” may preclude other options.

The notion that the examiner failed his responsibility is absurd. It is like as if the student is tasked to list five states in a US geography course and writes down, “Emergency”, “Elastic”, “Deluded”, “Mad”, “Solid”…. Is the examiner to be “warned” for not writing a clear enough question? LoL. CONTEXT is everything.

Most of these “outside the box” responses are actually quite pedestrian. The truth is that many people have thought of them, realized the inherit issues, and worked towards a better solution in the context of the problem given (all within the timeframe allotted too.) This is a truth that appears to cause much angst.

The student did not complete the presentation of his solution since the method must carry with it some details as to what environment factors can challenge the method or perhaps even render it useless. Have a look at Exogenist’s message 24. That is more of the way challenges should be presented.

People often mistake “being outside the box” as enough. The truth is one still has to be in the “right spot” (or spots) outside the box.


Msg 36

WE don't know that. The example doesn't say if the student contested the case or not.

Doesn’t Say? Really? This is why reading comprehension is so important to the foundation of a logical argument, from the FIRST SENTENCE of the story (msg 1):
…He was about to give a student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while the student claimed a perfect score
RoFl. Just what part of “while the student claimed a perfect score” does not constitute a protest of the initial adjudication? Please answer this.

At any rate, what we were referring to was not “contest his score” but “contest the RANKING of his SOLUTION” (to other solutions.)

To forgo the conventional answer, and instead present an alternative method IS to challenge the conventional to the relative effectiveness of one’s solution. The student didn’t supply the comparison. Look again at how Exogenist’s message 24 mentions challenges to the barometric method. That is contesting. So… Yep. We DO know that (in either conception.)

The example shows that the student DIDN’T offer justification as to why dropping a barometer off the side of a building is better than using it as pressure measuring device.


Msg 36

Even then, he's not being tested on his ability to challenge authority, not in an educational environment, not purposely anyway. If he does, and the examiner is wrong, we don't commend the student, because we're not trying to get the student to challenge authority.

It is doubtful any here believe that any part of the original intent of the exam was to “test the student’s ability to challenge authority.” Again, it was the student that chose to escalate the problem into a challenge of authority. Read the part about “But Officer, you never specified my CURRENT license.” again in The B0rg’s last post (msg 35)

The exam is really isolating and testing for basic understanding of air pressure and how it relates to altitude. That was all. To throw in one’s own conditions to preclude the problem is raising the stakes… it’s been covered.


Msg 36

We tell the examiner that he didn't do his job properly, and this is his first warning. 2 more and he gets the sack. We don't benefit from having idiots as examiners.

Certainly not… but the question was appropriately framed in context. Incompetence is judged on a case by case basis. As much as some of us wish to believe that some examiners are “idiots”, or the mythology that “book smart” and “street smart” are somehow inversely related, we assure you they are largely independent variables. One can be one, the other, or apparently, neither.


Msg 36

In exams, 70%... …95%.

Even if one was “the” authority on how exams are evaluated, we were only offering our experience on it. You may wish to deny “our” recollections if you wish.


Msg 36

However, you can contest even that, if the exam question can be answered by your method, and if you do, you can get 100%.

Sure. Alternate methods are fine. No one is arguing that. Again, in the case of the fabled student, it was his inability to “show his work”, and by that, was unable to demonstrate how his method was a better approach, he fails.

For those inclined to think that there was “no caveat for the approach to be efficient or more efficient than the conventional approach” then one will have to re-absorb the note about the butterfly effect.


Msg 36

One thing teachers teach you about passing exams, is to always read the question very carefully. If your method does answer the question, then it's a valid answer. If the examiner expected a different method, then he should have written a better question, one that excluded any other method from achieving the right answer.

In there lies the irony.

On one hand, one promotes the freedom for “critical thinking”, yet when faced with a situation that requires one to actually apply “critical thinking” and understand the CONTEXT of the question… one expects the examiner to shelter the student from the ambiguity of “real life.”

Again (this word is starting to look strange as its being used “again”,) it is the story’s student that escalated the question beyond the conventional. Raise the stakes and raise the jeopardy. The Collective, and likely many adjudicators, would be open enough to evaluate a student fairly should they decide to take that more challenging route. However, “no work”, “no error analyses”, “no exploration of conditions”… big fat ZERO.


Msg 36

However, without appropriate figures, the student is not being asked to demonstrate his knowledge of the formula that calculates altitude from atmospheric pressure. So the student still does not demonstrate appropriate knowledge that is required in practical applications of his knowledge of atmospheric pressure.

We trust Coolnomad has already covered this.

The relative range of values is ascertained from knowledge that the object to be measured is a tall building. Other than that, plugging in some numbers into a set of equations demonstrates nothing but the ability to select a form, fill it out and press “submit”. It is the CONCEPTS behind the physics that is being tested. Everyone has there own experience of this, but as we recall most exams are about the concepts.

If one truly believes the examination process is about testing proficiency in loading numbers into a machine and turning the crank, then this whole exercise in showing how opportunity for “critical thinking” exists is fruitless.


Msg 36

Here is one exercise in "critical thinking"… ….Any surveyor or building contractor or architect caught using a barometer, would be fired.

Ironically, with respects to the exam, that is naught critical thinking.

The constraint of the examination question was that of a barometer. We cannot assume that access to a theodolite, or that conditions will permit sight lines etc are options. Nor can one assume that the requestor needs the height any more or any less accurately than what a decent barometer can offer. All the student is asked is how the barometer can be used to measure the height of the building (and again it is implied that a way involving the specifics of the given instrument, should be offered.)


Msg 36

"You're in an unpressurised plane. Your altimeter breaks. You have a barometer and a scientific calculator, along with some pen and paper. Explain how you would use the barometer to calculate the altitude of the plane."

That WOULD be a valid question, as you cannot just go and get some rope, or a theodolite, or anything else on a plane, not until it lands. You are forced to rely on the barometer to calculate the atmospheric pressure, and to use that information to calculate the altitude. That's a valid question.

Lol. We were actually waiting for this.

The question, as posed is no different to anyone who wishes to speciously ignore context, employ a “cute” answer, and argue for full marks. Some fictitious student would answer. “The altitude is ZERO or step outside and use the height of the barometer as a measure… you never said the plane was in flight. If it was, use the barometer to toggle the radar/pressure switch to get your altitude (you never said there wasn’t a radar altimeter and everybody KNOWS how much better a method that is). Full marks, please.”

Did one really think that nobody else knows how to play that game?

The point is that there was enough implied to determine that the barometer was to be used as a barometer in the original story. Some only refuse to acknowledge that.


Msg 36

If the examiner HAD asked that question… …serious dressing down.

The hyperbole of that passage indicates an agenda to not just blame, but vilify the examiner rather than examine the fictional student: If moronic laziness was allows to persist… yet we have not established if these individuals are indeed lazy or seriously lacking in intellect.


Msg 36

You have engaged Logic.

Logic? No, not really.

Firstly, logical arguments do not rely on selectively ignoring salient points such as the context in which the exam was delivered, or that the student only offered alternatives, but no explanation as to why these alternatives were selected over the conventional method.

Secondly, although some leeway on misunderstanding can be given, to believe that the student in the story did not “contest the judgment” even though it is literally in the FIRST SENTENCE of the story, betrays a faulty foundation. Logic rarely arises from such weakness.

Thirdly, the hyperbole exhibited in the last passage clearly indicates a bias that seriously, if not irreparably hinders logic.

If one really intends to be logical, understand that the complexity of the answer is dependent on how the student perceives the question. If the student perceived it as the one of air pressure etc… he answers it that way. If the student perceived it to be more open-ended, then he must provide a solution commensurate to the task. How can one accept that the student selected the second and more complex option, but is worthy of “full marks” for an answer suited for less complexity?
.
.
.
Please reread the part about “context”. The simple approach would be to use the barometer as a barometer. Again, (yes again), if the student elects to introduce alternate methods (and that is an option), and by so doing, raise the expectations, then the onus is on him or her to demonstrate why his or her solutions are superior to the conventional. Also, one must remember that the constraints of “real life” may preclude other options. This has been explained.

The Collective only has to illuminate it for those who can see it (that includes all of Katharine and Isabel’s categories)

You have engage The B0rg
“Resistance is Futile”
(Lol. Get your own tagline)

 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 27
view profile
History
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/20/2010 12:58:06 PM
RE Msg: 50 by b0rg:
Please reread the part about “context”. The simple approach would be to use the barometer as a barometer. Again, (yes again), if the student elects to introduce alternate methods (and that is an option), and by so doing, raise the expectations, then the onus is on him or her to demonstrate why his or her solutions are superior to the conventional. Also, one must remember that the constraints of “real life” may preclude other options. This has been explained.
That is illogical. Logic dictates that the question must be answered by the constraints of the question. Any other considerations, such as the "expected" approach, or if any other tools have been excluded from use, must be explicitly detailed by the constraints of the question, to be considered a valid constraint of the question, that would eliminate them. If those constraints are not explicitly present in the wording of the question, they are irrelevant to the answer of the question.

The Collective only has to illuminate it for those who can see it (that includes all of Katharine and Isabel’s categories)
Irrelevant.The Collective has no interest in the views of others. The Collective has no desire to illuminate anyone, not even those who can see it's viewpoint.


Actually, the expected solution is often NOT the most approrpiate solution, not unless the question is selected very carefully, to match situations in which it would be the best solution.
Really? The conventional solution is often not the most appropriate. We believe you’d have a hard time selling that story. The barometer was “selected” carefully enough.
The barometer will often produce an innacurate result. The choice of barometer was an innacurate choice.

The “cute” answers were not.
The student's answer was capable of yielding accurate results. The student's answer was accurate.

When a client asks for a widget, the most appropriate solution is, if there is no further clarification to understand the client’s needs, to assume you know better about his needs and hand him a whatzit. ROFLMAO. Come now. You are purposely missing the point about how it was the student that elected to “raise the problem to a new level” and assume that conditions favoured an unconventional solution.
When a client asks for a barometer, without further clarification, the most appropriate solution is to hand him a barometer.

When a client asks for a barometer, for the purpose of measuring the height of a building, the most appropriate solution is to inform him this is not a good choice of tool for his purpose, and to hand him a tool that would measure the height of a building accurately.

In the case of “choice of solution”, the student neither queried for more details nor supplied the assumptions he was making. How are the student’s solutions “better solutions”? Most offered less precision, were slave to more constraints, and required far more material and effort to get a result. It is the student that neglected to “carefully select” his answer that fails him. (Let see if one actually addresses this point…)
The other approaches required more information and/or tools. But they included the constraints required. For instance, the student suggested that one could use the shadow of the building to calculate the height of the building. But he also clarified that this could be done on a sunny day.

Conversely, the examiner did not specify the weather conditions under which the barometer could be used. It has been pointed out earlier that the weather conditions would affect the barometer's usefulness. Many weather conditions, such as density of the water in the air, will affect the atmospheric pressure, which is why barometers used to be used for detecting the state of the weather. However, weather conditions are often non-uniform across varying levels of height. So very often, the weather would make differences in the atmospheric pressure due to weather conditions, that would be different between the top of the building and the bottom of the building, resulting in the barometer reporting back a resulting difference in pressure that would not be proportional to the differences in altitude. This would result in an inaccurate result, far too large to be worth even considering using the barometer, unless the weather conditions were specified in the question, which they were not.

(Let see if one actually addresses this point…)
The Hive Mind chose brevity over compleness. This was not sufficient for the poster to stop making ridiculous claims. Thus, the complete but lengthy process of addressing all the points was chosen.


That's dependent on the skill of the examiner to design appropriate questions. If the student can find another way to solve the problem, then the examiner has failed at his responsibility.
Please reread the part about “context”. The simple approach would be to use the barometer as a barometer. Again, (yes again), if the student elects to introduce alternate methods (and that is an option), then the onus is on him or her to demonstrate why that option is superior to the conventional. Also, one must remember that the constraints of “real life” may preclude other options.
The student is there to learn. The teacher's job is there to teach. The teacher has the greater information, and the student the lesser information. The student is there to learn information that he does not yet know. So he cannot be expected to know the information that he does not yet know. So the onus is on the teacher.

The onus is thus on the teacher to explain why the use of a barometer is better than any other method, including the methods that the student did not specify, but might occur to other students later on, such as using a theodolite, or a laser-sight for measuring distances.

The notion that the examiner failed his responsibility is absurd. It is like as if the student is tasked to list five states in a US geography course and writes down, “Emergency”, “Elastic”, “Deluded”, “Mad”, “Solid”…. Is the examiner to be “warned” for not writing a clear enough question? LoL. CONTEXT is everything.
Those are not US states. It is like the student is handed an atlas, and tasked to list five states in a UK geography course, using the atlas, and the student finds them listed in the back of the book, and writes them down from the list at the back of the book, rather than looking at the map of the USA. The student did exactly as asked.

Most of these “outside the box” responses are actually quite pedestrian. The truth is that many people have thought of them, realized the inherit issues, and worked towards a better solution in the context of the problem given (all within the timeframe allotted too.) This is a truth that appears to cause much angst.
People have thought of all these answers. That's why people don't use a barometer to find the height of a building. They've realised the inherent problems in doing that, and realise that it's an inaccurate and inappropriate choice.

The student did not complete the presentation of his solution since the method must carry with it some details as to what environment factors can challenge the method or perhaps even render it useless. Have a look at Exogenist’s message 24. That is more of the way challenges should be presented.
But that is NOT the way the question was worded. Had Exogenist's answer been given by the student, the student would have been given some points. However, the student would have had to include the test for the conditions that the atmospheric pressure is uniform from the top of the building to be bottom, and Exogenist didn't show that.

However, had the student said that he would set up a series of experiments to determine the atmospheric pressure changes from the top of the building to the bottom, knowing the altitude at each point, and then, having known this, then proceeded to test the atmospheric pressures at the top and bottom of the building, then he would have got full marks. However, that depends on the scope of the question. I've done almost 100 exam papers in questions of this nature, as my teachers required it of us to do many past exams in preparation for our exams. In light of that experience, I would say that questions that require that type of investigation do at least point out some indication that such investigations are required to be made, and that one cannot rely on equipment like barometers for accurate readings without taking into account the conditions that affect them, such as weather conditions.

People often mistake “being outside the box” as enough. The truth is one still has to be in the “right spot” (or spots) outside the box.
Being "in the right spot", outside of inside the box, is simply a question of whether or not your method has a reasonable chance of producing an accurate result. An example is the Monty Hall problem.

However, many, many, many, people simply think that "thinking inside the box" is enough, when the box only outlines methods for certain extremely limited situations, and in order for "thinking inside the box" to be useful, one has to learn the boundaries of the box and what the box can actually accomplish, and what it cannot accomplish, first. Examiners regularly throw in trick questions, designed to test if the students truly understand the material, or are just thinking "inside the box". One such question that appeared on a maths exam, was "Express eleven thousand, eleven hundred and eleven, in digits." The answer is of course 12111. The students who thought "inside the box" all answered the same: 111111. The students who thought outside the box got the right answer. A lot of students failed that question, because too many students thought "inside the box".


WE don't know that. The example doesn't say if the student contested the case or not.
Doesn’t Say? Really? This is why reading comprehension is so important to the foundation of a logical argument, from the FIRST SENTENCE of the story (msg 1):
…He was about to give a student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while the student claimed a perfect score…
RoFl. Just what part of “while the student claimed a perfect score” does not constitute a protest of the initial adjudication? Please answer this.
Fair enough. I did not pay enough attention to that part of the post.

At any rate, what we were referring to was not “contest his score” but “contest the RANKING of his SOLUTION” (to other solutions.)

To forgo the conventional answer, and instead present an alternative method IS to challenge the conventional to the relative effectiveness of one’s solution. The student didn’t supply the comparison. Look again at how Exogenist’s message 24 mentions challenges to the barometric method. That is contesting. So… Yep. We DO know that (in either conception.)
The student only claimed that he deserved a perfect score. He didn't say that the solution he wrote was the best solution, or even better than any others. He even listed plenty of others. The student in no way claimed that his solution should be RANKED better than other solutions. He only claimed that his was a VALID solution. Don't confuse RANKING with VALIDITY. They are 2 entirely different concepts.

The example shows that the student DIDN’T offer justification as to why dropping a barometer off the side of a building is better than using it as pressure measuring device.
The student is not required to explain why dropping a barometer off the side of a building is better than using it as pressure measuring device. He is only required to explain why his solution is a valid solution.

FYI, read the example again:
Some time ago I received a call from a colleague. He was about to give a student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while the student claimed a perfect score. The instructor and the student agreed to an impartial arbiter, and I was selected. I read the examination question: “SHOW HOW IT IS POSSIBLE TO DETERMINE THE HEIGHT OF A TALL BUILDING WITH THE AID OF A BAROMETER.” The student had answered, “Take the barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower it to the street, and then bring it up, measuring the length of the rope. The length of the rope is the height of the building.”
The student didn't answer to drop the barometer off the side of a building. He simply said to LOWER it using a rope.

Just what part of "dropping" constituted part of the student's actual answer to the question?



Even then, he's not being tested on his ability to challenge authority, not in an educational environment, not purposely anyway. If he does, and the examiner is wrong, we don't commend the student, because we're not trying to get the student to challenge authority.
It is doubtful any here believe that any part of the original intent of the exam was to “test the student’s ability to challenge authority.”
As I said, he's not being tested for his ability to challenge authority, and even if he does, he's not commended for it. So you agree with me on this.

Again, it was the student that chose to escalate the problem into a challenge of authority.
Any student in the UK is allowed to request that his exam be re-checked by a different examiner, as many times as he feels. He is only warned that if he made a mistake that the examiner overlooked, this might be discovered by the second examiner, and he might end up with a lower mark than he was initially given. But it's totally acceptable to question your exam marks, at least in the UK.

Read the part about “But Officer, you never specified my CURRENT license.” again in The B0rg’s last post (msg 35)
In that case, the police officer is perfectly entitled to say "Please show me your CURRENT licence." However, if the policeman does NOT ask for the valid answer, and arrests the driver anyway, then this matter will be addressed in court. The policeman will be cross-examined as to why he never asked for the driver's current licence. A policeman can only make an arrest in the UK, if he/she has a solid reason to suspect a crime has been committed. If the policeman did not take note that the licence had expired, and did not subsequently ask for a current licence, and the suspected crime required that the driver was not in possession of a current licence, then even if the driver had committed that crime, the case could easily be thrown out, as at the time of arrest, the policeman had no reason or knowledge to suspect that a crime was being committed. If the driver was committing a crime, but was not a crime that depended on a driver's licence, then the crime committed was NOT the crime the accused was arrested for, and was not the crime the accused was being prosecuted for in trial. Then the accused has not been accused of that crime, and the accused still has to go free. Either way, making the mistake of a policeman accepting a licence, and not checking it out properly, is liable to result in the case being thrown out, which is why police are told to check and double-check things like that, before making an arrest.

The exam is really isolating and testing for basic understanding of air pressure and how it relates to altitude. That was all. To throw in one’s own conditions to preclude the problem is raising the stakes… it’s been covered.
This sort of question does occasionally occur in exams deliberately as a trick question, but in a slightly different wording, so that it is not confused for a badly-chosen question, such as "Explain how a barometer is the best choice of instrument for measuring the height of a building". The student who answers to use the barometer to calculate the height using atmospheric pressure, is usually marked down, for not pointing out that a barometer is not fit for measuring the height of a building.


We tell the examiner that he didn't do his job properly, and this is his first warning. 2 more and he gets the sack. We don't benefit from having idiots as examiners.
Certainly not… but the question was appropriately framed in context. Incompetence is judged on a case by case basis.
Not quite. Prior experience and reputation comes into the matter as well. A gifted student who answers to use a rope is judged differently than a student who has consistently failed most homeworks and exam questions. The gifted student is likely to know the answer, but to choose that a better answer. The weak student is likely to give the answer of a rope, simply because he doesn't remember anything from his lessons at all.

Equally, the experience and the reputation of the examiner comes to bear. Some examiners deliberately set trick questions, to see how much a student has actually understood from their lessons, and how much he/she can think even to situations not been taught. This was true of many of the questions set to us, both in homeworks, and in exams. In these cases, the students are marked according to their ability to point out the flaws in the implied method, and for suggesting alternative, more viable methods.

Other examiners are known by their colleagues for posing poor questions, but are sometimes used anyway when there are not enough examiners to set the questions for all the exams required. When this is the case, students who answered the question with a different method, but one that works, are automatically given full marks. Students who answered in the implied method are not penalised for having a bad question, as long as they have sufficient good working out of the method they stated.

As much as some of us wish to believe that some examiners are “idiots”, or the mythology that “book smart” and “street smart” are somehow inversely related, we assure you they are largely independent variables. One can be one, the other, or apparently, neither.
That is entirely correct, and this is an example of "street smarts" without "book smarts". A "book smart" person looks up the different ways of measuring height, and chooses the one that is the most reliable, either using trigonometric methods, such as with a theodolite, or even a protractor, or distance measurement, like with a rope, or a laser-sighted measuring instrument. A "book smart" person might even go to the city council, and request the planning documents of the building. A "book smart" person would never dream of using a barometer to measure the height of a building.

Maybe a "street smart" person might. But then, that's why we say that "street smarts" does not imply "book smarts". "Street smart" people get things wrong a lot of the time, when it comes to "book smarts".


In exams, 70%... …95%.
Even if one was “the” authority on how exams are evaluated, we were only offering our experience on it. You may wish to deny “our” recollections if you wish.
I'm NOT offering my experience. I asked my teachers a LOT about the values of the marking, because when I was young, I'd just put the answer, without my working out, and I lost most of my marks then as a result. It took me quite a while to learn to write out my working out. But once I did, then even when I did get the wrong answer, I'd still get most of my marks. So I asked many of my teachers about how much was given for each part of the exams. I'm not quoting exactly. But I do recall that the majority was for the working out, the minority was for the answer, and a small measure was for clarity and style.


However, you can contest even that, if the exam question can be answered by your method, and if you do, you can get 100%.
Sure. Alternate methods are fine. No one is arguing that. Again, in the case of the fabled student, it was his inability to “show his work”, and by that, was unable to demonstrate how his method was a better approach, he fails.
He's not been asked to explain why his method is the best method of measuring the height of a building, is better than any other. He is only asked to “SHOW HOW IT IS POSSIBLE TO DETERMINE THE HEIGHT OF A TALL BUILDING WITH THE AID OF A BAROMETER.” As long as he shows a possible method for that, he's answered the question correctly.

For those inclined to think that there was “no caveat for the approach to be efficient or more efficient than the conventional approach” then one will have to re-absorb the note about the butterfly effect.
Do you mean this bit that you wrote in msg 25?:
That would include waiting for the answer to fall out of the sky because a butterfly flapped its wings 3,000 km away.
That would not be a valid answer, because answers don't "drop out of the sky". In that case, you can expect to never get the answer. In exams, you have to answer the question, not an unasked one. So in exams, you never have to write the benefits of one method over another, unless the question explicitly states for you to explain why one method is better than another.


One thing teachers teach you about passing exams, is to always read the question very carefully. If your method does answer the question, then it's a valid answer. If the examiner expected a different method, then he should have written a better question, one that excluded any other method from achieving the right answer.
In there lies the irony.

On one hand, one promotes the freedom for “critical thinking”, yet when faced with a situation that requires one to actually apply “critical thinking” and understand the CONTEXT of the question… one expects the examiner to shelter the student from the ambiguity of “real life.”
Exams in physics test "book smarts", your ability to use the scientific information you know, to solve problems. Exams in physics do NOT test "street smarts, like your ability to gauge what other people mean when they ask you to do a task in an unclear manner.

Now, you CAN ask why educational facilities doesn't have a big requirement on developing good communication skills. The answer is that they used to. That's why English was a required subject for English-speakers even in secondary schools. We already knew how to speak read and write in English. The purpose of these lessons was to improve comprehension and to improve clarity in communication. However, when schools changed their focus to focus on appealing to the average child, the average child was the working class child, as they were the majority, and they didn't speak, read or write anything complicated. The expectation changed to be that English was to ensure that ALL kids were brought up to a minimal level of comprehension and communication, and nothing more.
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 28
view profile
History
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/20/2010 12:58:28 PM
Continued...


Again (this word is starting to look strange as its being used “again”,) it is the story’s student that escalated the question beyond the conventional. Raise the stakes and raise the jeopardy. The Collective, and likely many adjudicators, would be open enough to evaluate a student fairly should they decide to take that more challenging route. However, “no work”, “no error analyses”, “no exploration of conditions”… big fat ZERO.
There are examination boards that had similar types of attitudes in the UK. My school, and most good schools, decided to have nothing to do with them, in the sciences. The sciences require understanding, and that requires being able to think of every method, not just the ones implied.


However, without appropriate figures, the student is not being asked to demonstrate his knowledge of the formula that calculates altitude from atmospheric pressure. So the student still does not demonstrate appropriate knowledge that is required in practical applications of his knowledge of atmospheric pressure.
We trust Coolnomad has already covered this.
You mean this?

RE Msg: 39 by coolnomad:
If it was a physics class which it looks like it was, then the question is about the physics. It's a frickin' exam question! Had the student in question actually said I can't do this because I don't now the temperature,humidity other variables etc etc... as they vary with height the prof. would likely tell him assume it's all constant. The point is the concept! Questions on these exams don't reflect real world scenarios.
Actually, other students have brought this up in many questions asked by teachers, very often in my school.

Teachers whose students did very poorly in exams replied as above, just to assume it was all constant, and that the student was just getting off the point.

Teachers whose students very well in their exams, would, when asked about the problems of temperature and humidity, would then either admit they forgot and add that in as a condition, or point out to the other students that this was a test of their knowledge, and that in a real exam, they would be marked down for not pointing this out.

The teacher I had whose students all got As in the subjects he taught, would laugh. Then he would point out that the student who raised the point was right. Then he would ask us how the conditions might affect the results, and how we might address those problems. An appropriate answer would be to suggest methods to find out those conditions and factor them into the results, within the confines of the question. Another appropriate answer would be to approach the question a little differently, whose answer would not be dependent on those conditions.

As I said, the teachers who didn't consider this issue important, tended to be the teachers whose students did extremely badly when it came to exams.

The relative range of values is ascertained from knowledge that the object to be measured is a tall building.
Tall, is a rather relative term. Tall can mean any building 20 metres high. It can also mean the tallest building in Dubai, which stands at 828 metres tall. Scale must be measured according to size. In this case, the scale can be from 50 metres to 1000 metres, which is a massive difference, and results in a huge relative range of values, so much so, that without specifying the height of the building, serious errors are bound to result.

Other than that, plugging in some numbers into a set of equations demonstrates nothing but the ability to select a form, fill it out and press “submit”. It is the CONCEPTS behind the physics that is being tested. Everyone has there own experience of this, but as we recall most exams are about the concepts.
Not quite. We all knew about gravity, magnetism, electricity, and radioactivity when we were in primary school. But we didn't know the FORMULAS, or how and when to apply them.
We knew that gravity existed. But we didn't know how to calculate escape velocity.
We didn't know how to calculate the current required for a fuse for a 650W microwave oven being fed with 240V AC voltage.
We knew about friction. We didn't know how to calculate how long it would take for friction to bring a 1.5 ton car travelling at 50mph to a full stop.

There is a fictional story about a famous engineer on a liner. The captain comes to him, and says that there is a tapping sound that is driving all the passengers crazy. They are all threatening to sue. The captain begs the engineer to help, and says that he will pay the engineer $50,000 if he can fix the problem. The engineer agrees. He then walks round, the ship, making notes here and there. He then gets to a point in the ship, asks for a hammer, and then knocks a pipe once with the hammer. A great burst of steam comes out the pipe, and the sound is totally gone. All the passengers are elated, and so is the captain.

The engineer then asks for his $50,000. The captain replies that he cannot see why he should pay $50,000 for such a small amount of effort.

The engineer promptly gets out a piece of paper, and writes on it. He then hands it to the captain:

Bill for work carried out:
Cost of hitting a pipe with a hammer: $1.00
Cost of knowing where to hit: $49,999.00


Physics lessons are not to learn to hit pipes with hammers. They are there to learn where to find the source of the problem.

If one truly believes the examination process is about testing proficiency in loading numbers into a machine and turning the crank, then this whole exercise in showing how opportunity for “critical thinking” exists is fruitless.
You've just explained why so many teachers have said that giving the implied method is just an exercise in futility. Any idiot can read a barometer. Any idiot can read that a barometer measures atmospheric pressure. Any idiot can figure out that the examiner is suggesting that one can measure the height of a building using atmospheric pressure. But it takes someone who understands physics to use the laws of physics accurately, and not to just try to fulfil other's expectations.


Here is one exercise in "critical thinking"… ….Any surveyor or building contractor or architect caught using a barometer, would be fired.
Ironically, with respects to the exam, that is naught critical thinking.
Don't you mean "NOT"? "Naught" is a word to be used by itself, as in "all my efforts led to naught".

The constraint of the examination question was that of a barometer. We cannot assume that access to a theodolite,
A theodolite cannot be assumed to be unavailable. We can assume that most students have access to a protractor, and that basically does the same thing. A theodolite is much more accurate. But we simply need more measurements to cover that problem.

or that conditions will permit sight lines etc are options.
It's a building. Are you kidding? You can SEE a building. The only buildings that you cannot see, are underground, and then, the rules of atmospheric pressure change totally.

Nor can one assume that the requestor needs the height any more or any less accurately than what a decent barometer can offer.
Most barometers say "dry-cloudy-rainy" and not much more. I don't exactly know what you mean by "a decent barometer". I looked it up, and scientifically accurate barometers are accurate to +/- 1 hPa. I've also calculated the atmospheric pressure for the height of a building to within 1 metre for buildings between 100 and 800 metres. For an example, buildings with heights between 196 metres and 203 metres, all have an atmospheric pressure of 988 hPa, to within 1 hPa. Do you think that it's reasonable to miss 7 metres from a building's height? After all, 7 metres is only the height of more than 3 6' people.

All the student is asked is how the barometer can be used to measure the height of the building (and again it is implied that a way involving the specifics of the given instrument, should be offered.)
Yes, like impossibly perfect weather conditions.


"You're in an unpressurised plane. Your altimeter breaks. You have a barometer and a scientific calculator, along with some pen and paper. Explain how you would use the barometer to calculate the altitude of the plane."

That WOULD be a valid question, as you cannot just go and get some rope, or a theodolite, or anything else on a plane, not until it lands. You are forced to rely on the barometer to calculate the atmospheric pressure, and to use that information to calculate the altitude. That's a valid question.
Lol. We were actually waiting for this.
Who is we? Are you writing from Unitmatrix zero? Are you in the delta quadrant? What happened to assimilating humanity?

The question, as posed is no different to anyone who wishes to speciously ignore context, employ a “cute” answer, and argue for full marks. Some fictitious student would answer. “The altitude is ZERO or step outside and use the height of the barometer as a measure… you never said the plane was in flight. If it was, use the barometer to toggle the radar/pressure switch to get your altitude (you never said there wasn’t a radar altimeter and everybody KNOWS how much better a method that is). Full marks, please.”
Fair enough about being in flight. But I said the altimeter was broken. The is a definite article. It is only applicable to when there is one, and only one, altimeter. So it is clear from the question, that there is only one altimeter, and that one is broken. No other altimeter to be used.

Neither can you say that you can just pull out another altimeter, not when there is no reason to expect you to have one. On the ground, you could go and get a radio altimeter. But unless the question says "You brought a radio altimeter with you", or that most people carry a radio altimeter with them when they board a plane, it is reasonable to assume that you don't have one with you, and you are in flight, unable to obtain one.

Did one really think that nobody else knows how to play that game?
Of course I did. I've been playing it since you were 4 years old. But you failed to realise that I might have a teensy weensy more experience in that style of argument that you might imagine of most people.

The point is that there was enough implied to determine that the barometer was to be used as a barometer in the original story. Some only refuse to acknowledge that.
There was something implied in the use of a barometer. It could be argued that if the barometer was fit for measuring height, that there might be an implied method. But unless explicitly stated, other methods are not ruled out.

Please note that I specified a scientific calculator, because without that, or log tables, you could not be expected to compute the results, as they rely on logs and/or powers.


If the examiner HAD asked that question… …serious dressing down.
The hyperbole of that passage indicates an agenda to not just blame, but vilify the examiner rather than examine the fictional student:
I guess you've never heard of that expression. It means to correct someone who should know better. Perhaps you are not aware that the sole responsibility of the examiner who writes the exam questions, is to write appropriate questions.

For him to make a mistake that can be taken so wrongly, by any student, is the equivalent of a driving instructor who instructs his pupils that a 2-second gap is appropriate braking distance between cars, but never mentions that this increases to a 4-second gap in the rain, and far more in snow, ice, or fog. That pupil is a death trap waiting to happen.

It is his sole responsibility to write clear questions that eliminate all other possible methods. If he cannot do that, there are plenty of others who can. He can fully expect that the next time we need an examiner to write exam questions, his will not be the number that will be called.

If moronic laziness was allows to persist… yet we have not established if these individuals are indeed lazy or seriously lacking in intellect.
Designing a question that can be possibly answered in several ways that do not demonstrate the use of atmospheric pressure, is indeed laziness. Either that, or serious ignorance of physics.


You have engaged Logic.
Logic? No, not really.

Firstly, logical arguments do not rely on selectively ignoring salient points such as the context in which the exam was delivered,
You are confusing English comprehension with logic.

or that the student only offered alternatives, but no explanation as to why these alternatives were selected over the conventional method.
You are confusing demonstrations of different methods and their different pros and cons, with the ability to provide an answer to a question.

Secondly, although some leeway on misunderstanding can be given, to believe that the student in the story did not “contest the judgment” even though it is literally in the FIRST SENTENCE of the story, betrays a faulty foundation.
1) The first sentence is "There were times in school when I thought my teachers were not very open-minded about alternative answers to test question."

2) It is not directly germane to the story whether or not the student argued about the marks, but whether or not the student was correct in answering the question in a way different to what you personally would expect.

Logic rarely arises from such weakness.
On the contrary, it is a partial omission, which can sometimes occur. Incorrect logic is arguing for something that is illogical, such as arguing that things that are not stated in the question, are in the question, such as that no method may be used other than an expected method.

Thirdly, the hyperbole exhibited in the last passage clearly indicates a bias that seriously, if not irreparably hinders logic.
On the contrary, it is logic that encouraged me to use the expression to yourself. You wrote at the end of your post, that "Resistance is futile". Resistance has been made, again and again, on every point. That you seem to not realise this, suggests that you used the quote because you heard it, and it sounds "cool" to you, without truly understanding what it means. "You have engaged Logic" addresses this issue, to subtly make you aware that you are not going to be able to get by this poster, just because you desired to write a lengthy post. You glossed over this, and even took issue with it, never grasping what was subtly implied.

If one really intends to be logical, understand that the complexity of the answer is dependent on how the student perceives the question.
Exactly! It is up to the examiner to pose an appropriate question that can only be answered using the methods that demonstrate what the examiner is intending to test knowledge and application of. If the examiner fails in this regard, then the examiner has posed a question that tests things that the examiner never considered. It is not the question the examiner intended to ask.

Many people make this mistake. If you ask a stupid question, then you can expect an answer that is equally stupid.

If the student perceived it as the one of air pressure etc… he answers it that way.
And he would be marked down for that, as the examiner is NOT the one marking the exams.

If the student perceived it to be more open-ended, then he must provide a solution commensurate to the task. How can one accept that the student selected the second and more complex option, but is worthy of “full marks” for an answer suited for less complexity?
Complexity is a disadvantage in the sciences. It represents unnecessary complexity, that is prone to more errors, and therefore to be avoided. A complex answer would be to have to wait until uniform conditions for the weather, then make a request to the building manager to gain access to the roof, then to use the barometer to measure the atmospheric pressure on the roof before the weather changes, then to measure the atmospheric pressure at the bottom, and then to get a scientific calculator, and then to calculate the results. So we are not reducing the complexity by using it to measure atmospheric pressure. Far from it.

Please reread the part about “context”. The simple approach would be to use the barometer as a barometer. Again, (yes again), if the student elects to introduce alternate methods (and that is an option), and by so doing, raise the expectations, then the onus is on him or her to demonstrate why his or her solutions are superior to the conventional. Also, one must remember that the constraints of “real life” may preclude other options. This has been explained.

The Collective only has to illuminate it for those who can see it (that includes all of Katharine and Isabel’s categories)
Please read the top of this post as to the answer. You have repeated yourself, and the answers have already been given.

(Lol. Get your own tagline)
You're quoting a tagline that everyone knows belongs to someone else. Even the people who hate sci-fi watch TNG. Even the people who absolutely despise sci-fi know that quote. You might as well put a sign on your head that says "plagiarist". You're telling ME to get my own tagline? When I don't even bother with such trivialities? That is the pot calling the kettle black.

Your answers are typical of many mundane people. I used to enjoy arguing with them, because they were so easy to make fun of. They can only think "inside the box", and everyone who thinks outside the box, learned how to inside the box as well. So it's really easy to tease them, as we have the whole world to use to pick them apart, while they only have a 10x10 cage.

But these days, it's a rather tiresome exercise. It's rather like throwing a stick for a dog. After a while, you start to think: "What's the point?" But at least with a dog, it's exercise for the dog, and dogs need to be given exercise by their owners. You are a human. There is more expected of you.
 Rainsands
Joined: 1/9/2007
Msg: 29
The wrong answer
Posted: 1/20/2010 4:56:56 PM

He's not been asked to explain why his method is the best method of measuring the height of a building, is better than any other. He is only asked to “SHOW HOW IT IS POSSIBLE TO DETERMINE THE HEIGHT OF A TALL BUILDING WITH THE AID OF A BAROMETER.” As long as he shows a possible method for that, he's answered the question correctly.


Scorpio, the instructor did not ask "Show how it is possible to determine the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer AND A ROPE".

The student's answer was incorrect. Borg has done an excellent job of illustrating why the student's answer was unacceptable.
Show ALL Forums  > Science/philosophy  > The wrong answer