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"Bad" tests--what to do?

Students   (952 Views | 1 Replies)

5,129 Profile Views; 189 Posts

I'm in my second-to-last semester of a BSN program at a state university. I've maintained a good GPA and do well on tests and assignments. We have to have a 77 test average in every nursing course to pass the course and move on in the program. This semester, I have a course with a new professor--new to the school and new to teaching, both. We just had our midterm and I got a 78, the highest grade in the class was an 80. Now, this is NOT normal at my school. The vast majority of people in this class failed the test and some may not even be able to recover. These aren't poor students, either (those are long gone at this point!). I'm not normally one to nitpick for points or blame "bad" questions when I do miss things, but this test was awful. I studied fairly hard, because I had no idea what to expect from this professor, but I'd gotten 100% on the previous quiz so I felt confident that I was going to do well. When I opened the test, it was like reading another language, the questions were worded in such a convoluted way (nothing like the quiz), and there are a few that I KNOW had problems with the answer choices.

A few people have already spoken with her, and she basically didn't understand that was needed the 77 average on tests, and she also kept saying she didn't think the test was that hard, which it obviously was because everyone did so badly. I contacted her expressing my major disappointment with my grade but haven't gotten a response yet. My question is, is there any recourse here? Is it worth taking my concerns higher if she doesn't respond? Again, I'm NOT the type of person to argue points when I legitimately just didn't do well, but I think this test had problems beyond being a difficult test.

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HouTx has 35 years experience as a BSN, MSN, EdD and specializes in Critical Care, Education.

9,051 Posts; 45,767 Profile Views

All accredited schools have a formal appeals process. Just follow those directions.

From an educator perspective - the science of developing tests is called "psychometrics"... yes, it is a science, complete with a standards that should be followed to create test items and processes for analyzing the validity and reliability of each item as well as the entire test. The problem? Few nursing faculty have sufficient psychometric training... many don't even have formal education in the 'discipline' of education. It is up to the school to provide this as professional development.

FWIW, the school should require instructors to conduct an item analysis for each newly developed test. This is just a raw tabulation of how many people answered each item correctly. This provides feedback on the instructor's teaching ability as well as the quality of the test. There are more sophisticated types of analyses, but IMO this should be the minimum for any test that is used to compute the student's grade.

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