We just finished up another term of classes and are now starting the next term. This morning I got my student evaluations from last term’s classes. Student commentary on most aspects of a course are typically very thoughtful. Criticism can be harsh, but most students do it with a spirit helpfulness and construction. However, I always find comments about the exams in a class to be the most incongruous.
The most common comments from students are (1) the exams are too long, and (2) the exams didn’t cover a lot of the material we covered in class. Frequently, students will make both these points within the same sentence. First of all, these students don’t realize the contradiction inherent in this compound complaint. If you want me to ask about everything we covered in class, the exams will have to be considerably longer. However, I think both, and particularly the second complaint reflects a lack of understanding about their own educational goals and what one can expect for their education.