Thursday, July 19, 2007

WIMWI fundaes I - How to make an easy subject 'challenging'

Method 1 - Set surprise quizzes with humanly impossible time limits.

See it's very simple. A small problem that is modelled on a longer exam problem and is about one fourth its size requires about one fourth its time to solve. This much should be obvious. If the longer exam is 3 hours, the shorter one should be 45 minutes. This is simple division. If you give 15 minutes, nobody will be able to complete the paper. This is common sense. What does not make sense is why people so capable would choose to forego simple mathematics and common sense when trying to test students.

What exactly did you test today, WIMWI? My writing speed? Or the speed at which I can push numbers into my calculator? It couldn't be calibre, but maybe you don't even want to test that. It couldn't be learning (which is what you should ideally test) because apart from one minor detail, there was nothing in the case that could possibly involve any of us in any amount of thought. You aren't even trying to test us on our reactions to time pressure. Time pressure exists when one has to make a choice and prioritise - there was hardly a choice to be made today. Time pressure exists when you pose something that is possibly doable in a certain time with some extra effort and hence you can separate those who will put in that effort from those who won't. Today, the paper was not attemptable in 15 minutes. There was no time pressure - everyne knew that everyone would leave an incomplete answer sheet. Oh ya, the answer sheets. Financial statements teen or sheet keval ek. Bahut nainsaafi thi.

Granted, Financial Accounting is not rocket science, as people here are so fond of repeating. In fact, addition and subtraction based around one fundamental concept does not even match elementary physics, forget about rocket science. Yet, there have to be better ways of making a quiz more challenging than simply keeping a ridiculously low time limit. Yesterday, in the Quant test, you posed me a challenge I could be proud of solving. You posed us a challenge that drove many to desperation. Today, in FinAcc, you have caused no desperation - only indifference. I won't be happy if I do well, I won't be sad if I underperform. And to be sure, I am no believer in Karma Yoga or in the idea of the stithapragya man.

It's been a great four weeks WIMWI. But today, you have left me disappointed. I have no bile. I only have a smirk.

17 comments:

doubtinggaurav said...

Well, they want to make you manager...

zen babu said...

Was that sarcastic? If yes, it's not that bad you know. There are a lot of great things. If you were serious - I really couldn't understand what management skill/abilty they tested today. Anyhow, this was just one. There are 7 odd in this subject in a term. So I guess I was a little harsh on ths insti. Some bile, maybe, along with the smirk. ;-)

doubtinggaurav said...

Do you think I am capable of sarcasm, it is all good clean fun.

vaibhaV...WIMWI Calling... said...

ACP... :D
Btw, should i expect a new post after today's EA debacle? You can now add one more method... Make d question ambiguous and then take the stand which the least no of students have taken...huh.

zen babu said...

shintre dude,

What ACP? No A, No C, No P. My space, my bile, my biases, but all with some attempt at justification. Anyhow, good to see you here.

And I'm not gonna say anything abt the Econs quiz. Because according to me, there was absolutely no ambiguity. Possibly also because I think I'm gonna max it. ;-)

tanuj solanki said...

Well thanx for the insight buddy...

tanuj solanki said...

And yeah... I saw your disappointment after the MANAC quiz...well the only advice I can give you as a friend is to go through the motions mate. Just remember... THIS TOO WILL PASS.

That is what I keep telling myself.

Hail WIMWI....

zen babu said...

Tanuj,

There's no need to just go through the motions. It's largely fun, except when things become pointless, like in that particular quiz.

Dilip said...

Dude
Since I couldn't find any other way to email you off-line I just wanted to let you know that I came up on and read this old comment of yours on Ravikiran Rao's blog:
http://www.ravikiran.com/blog/classic/200612/dear-middle-class-of-india/#comment-59481

I came away supremely impressed. Very cogent line of thinking and extremely articulate.

Kudos! I am now subscribed to your blog.

zen babu said...

Dilip,

Thanks. Would I know you somehow?

Mayuresh Gaikwad said...

WIMWI wanted to test whether you can maximize your score when there is a lot more available for the bite than you can chew. So the obvious thing is to adopt a CAT-like strategy. Identify the easy parts and solve them in the 15 mins provided.
Again, just curious - is this your first week at WIMWI? I guess not, as you have access to internet et-al.
Is OM-3 still taught at WIMWI?

zen babu said...

Mayuresh,

Yes OM-3 is well and truly on. A CAT like strategy, btw, is one of the worst ways to try to differentiate between people who have already maximized CAT. A test of IQ is not the same thing as a test of learning and subject matter - the analogy is rather invalid.

In any case, thanks for dropping by.

Mayuresh Gaikwad said...

Well, whatever works for you as the best strategy. And as Gaurav has said, WIMWI wants to make a manager out of you, so is putting you into all kinds of difficult situations. Just wait for the third term and you'll know. But yes, by then, you'll have mastered the art of survival at WIMWI.

BTW, the idea is to make you get used to the stress. Believe me, once you are out, the learnings you'll put most to use are methods to cope up with stress, Dynamics (Individual & Group) and ..... hold your breath .... WAC!!!

So you might as well enjoy the ride, even though it seems quite bumpy.

zen babu said...

Oh, I think I ended up implying something other than what I wanted to. Actualy, the strategy you mention is quite correct for maximizing a "short Manac-I quiz" ;-). However, I just feel that a test which favours the use of such a strategy is more eappropriate for a screening and IQ process, like CAT, rather than a quiz on actual subject matter.

To be sure, there's not too much stress. I quite like the place, and yes both ID and WAC were awesome courses! The post was just a reaction to one particular quiz pre-mid term which I thought was quite counterproductive from the angle of measuring learning and/or preparation.

Which batch were you in, btw?

Mayuresh Gaikwad said...

Batch of 2002-2004, D1718 :-)

Anyway, just curious, do you know Gaurav (the doubting dictator) through blogging or through college / job.

I was his batchmate at Undergrad, so wonder if you are one of us who spent four years in Bongland, eating at Cheddis

zen babu said...

I know him only through blogging - our first blog conversation was an intense slanging match on freedom of expression etc at Sandep Web.

No, am not from KGP.

ram said...

hi