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Psychology 2035A/B Difficult Questions.pdf

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Psychology 2035A/B
Doug Hazlewood

1 Examples of “Difficult” Exam Questions (Psychology 2035) Last year, a student asked if I could provide examples of “difficult” questions. Below are three questions that I used on a previous exam. These were the most difficult questions and I actually dropped the first question because more than 80% of the students got it wrong. You’ll see that all the questions were correlated with overall exam performance. So, it’s not that the questions were inherently unclear or logically impossible to answer (I’ve provided some comments after each question). Note that if the mean on our first exam is 70%, then the average item difficulty will be .30 (much lower than these difficult questions). For now, I hope this helps. ~ Dr. Doug ___________________________________________________________________________ 1. When Skinner said that conditioning operates “mechanically”, he meant that A. It occurs without our conscious participation. B. It operates the same way in humans and non-humans. C. We don’t have to be concerned with mental processes. D. Two of the above. E. All of the above. See next page for correct answer ... 2 Correct Answer: E. [See p. 48] Item difficulty: 83% got it wrong. Correlation with overall grade: +.23 Number of students choosing each option: A = 89 B = 15 C =7 D = 179 E = 61 A, B, and C are all mentioned on p. 48. I got focused on the “mechanical” view because it was challenged by other behaviorists (e.g., Bandura - next section). I think the point was more subtle than I thought (and including “two of the above” made it even more difficult!). I’ll try to avoid this on our exams. But rest assured: if a question is so difficult that more than 80% of the students get it wrong, I’ll make an adjustment: I’ll add a mark to ALL students’ grades (therefore, students who get the question right will get a “bonus” mark). ___________________________________________________________________________ Continued ... 3 2. To avoid the “vicious circle” of low self-esteem and rejection by others, the textbook suggests that you should A. Recognize that you control your self image. B. Learn more about yourself. C. Emphasize your strengths. D. Approach others with a positive outlook. E. Recognize unrealistic goals. See next page for correct answer ... 4 Correct Answer: D [see p. 205 and Figure 6.19] Item difficulty: 71% got it wrong. Corr with overall grade: +.37 (this is good) Number of students choosing each option: A = 124 B = 28 C =53 D = 103 E = 43 I think most students chose A because it’s described
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