Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Blue (but not the brown) Books

The unexamined life is not living, but is the unexamined course worth giving? Is there any value in giving in-class blue book exams in philosophy? Let's exclude logic and critical thinking, what is the advantage to timed exams?

I give exams, but I've gotten away from in-class and gone completely over to take homes because it allows students the space to work out insights, to be able to quote and cite works they are engaging, and to print out the paper in a font that is much easier on the eyes than their hand-scrawled chicken scratch. The exercise seems a better facsimile of the philosophical process, although it does keep me from being able to ask straight forward knowledge recall questions like you get with matching, short answer, or fill in the blanks. But, let's be honest, in a week's time that short term info is gone anyway and it can be asked for creatively in a well-worded essay question.

So, is there value in a timed in-class philosophy exam? Is there a reason for the blue book blues?