This went well. A class average of 80% among those who showed.
Altogether, 18 students got an A, including 8 with 100% (on my ask-28-questions-grade-out-of-25 algorithm – again, no one got everything right). The remaining students: A-, 37; B+, 24; B, 16; B-, 17; C+, 12; C, 7; D, 33; Fails, 10; no shows (imagine not even trying!), 12.
The only disappointing question was one revealing that half the class were asleep (or absent) when I talked about cancer rates in elephants and blue whales. They have less cancer than humans even though they have more cells, more cell replication and so more mutation potential. It stands to reason, then, that elephants and whales must have methods for controlling cancer we don’t. If we could work out what they are, we might be able to use them to control cancer in humans.
I also slightly worry that I went on about the dangers of generalizing from an anecdote so much during the semester that the entire class completely dismisses anecdotes as evidence of anything. That’s an over reaction. Anecdotes can mean something: the first person to get cancer from smoking was an anecdote. The second was another anecdote, the third another…. You just have to be super cautious about drawing conclusions from them. But don’t dismiss them altogether. If someone keeps a cell phone in their bra and gets breast cancer, that could mean something…
Both those questions were suggested by students (I give extra credit for suggesting exam questions I use). There was also a question in a previous test suggested by a student which most of the class got wrong. I wonder if the students are better at testing each other’s deep understanding than I am. They might be. Perhaps students learn to get on my wave length rather than to deeply understand the material. Multiple wave length’s might stretch them better. Interesting thought.