- I'm not exactly a whiz with video cameras. Even though the final was taped, I have no idea if it recorded sound, or even if it recorded at all, so it's a good thing I wrote everything down as I went.
- Preparation is key, and I didn't do enough of it. In particular, I forgot to make sure there was a PS2 in the room, so I had to take a short recess in order to hunt one down and connect it. Time was very short, and delays like this were deadly.
- Students were absolutely terrified going into the exam; this comes from the prospect of being asked only two or three direct questions, and what if I draw a total blank? As soon as we started, everyone was much more at ease -- it felt a lot like the discussions we've had in class all along -- and I think many of them forgot they were even taking an exam :)
- Students had a tendency to repeat each others' answers, weighing in with their opinion, apparently forgetting that I was only asking for NEW information. These took up a lot of time, particularly on open-ended questions in which everyone had an opinion they wanted to share. I need a new rule to prevent getting bogged down on a single question; I'm considering limiting the "buzz-in" responses to something like three per question instead of unlimited.
- I realized when I had asked a single round of questions that we were about an hour and a half into a two-hour exam, and decided on the fly to go immediately to the "lightning round", and then ask some bonus questions (individually written responses on index cards) with whatever time we had left. This ended up being a reasonable way to deal with time pressure. Unfortunately, it did mean that there was more of a focus on older games (and more class lecture, less reading and terminology) than I'd have liked.
- This really only works with a very small class (<20),>
- Ask the most interesting and thought-provoking questions first, so students can get into the spirit of the exam and really start paying attention. Save the most fun, entertaining questions for last, so students will leave the exam (and the course) on a positive note.
- It helped to talk like a gameshow host, referring to students as "players" or "contestants", asking for a round of applause for our sponsors, and having parting gifts. First because it sounds so ridiculous that it really removes tension, second because it makes the video camera in the room feel more natural.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Final is done!
Overall, it went very well, and I'll definitely consider this style of game-demo-exam in future classes. Things I learned, in no particular order: