Class Test 2, 2013

Well… things are going in the right direction. Average score was 77%, or 79% excluding the no shows. That’s up a whole grade from Class Test 1… 

Ten more students got an A this time – a total of 23, including seven who got 100% on my grading algorithm (though no one got every question right). Otherwise, the grade distribution is all a bit up on last time: A-, 19; B+, 10; B, 22; B-, 29, C+, 14; C, 13; D, 26: Fails, 12 + 5 no shows.
So in my books, that is 38 students with unacceptably low grades (D or Fail, excluding the no shows). That’s down from 54 last time. Better, but not better enough.
Most sobering, there were some questions the majority of the class got wrong. Two concerned our class discussion of whether prayer heals. A rigorous randomized double blind placebo control trial showed it does. I apparently failed to get across to the majority of students that we now think the result was a fluke.
The other question of general concern was about what can be learned from meta-analyses of cancer trials. They teach us about both the ethics of such trials and the efficiency of science. Many students apparently failed to grasp one or both messages.
Student misunderstanding on these things worry me. They are important, and I thought I had been pretty clear. These days it is frustratingly hard to tell when the teaching is at fault: we have about 20% absenteeism regularly now (hard to pick up the hard stuff if you are not in class) and I can see many of those present are on their cell phones. But maybe I can do better; obviously I’ll go over those issues again in class. 

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