Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 85. Friday, 15 Mar 1991.
Date: 15 March 1991, 09:01:12 EST
Subject: Shakespeare histories final exam
In partial answer to Stanley McKenzie's question, yes, the students were
prepared specifically for this kind of test, with review questions and
study sessions.  I became worried as the first five or so exams I graded
were so well done that I thought everyone was going to get an A, but in
fact the grade distribution was split: people received solid A's or
solid C-'s or D's, with  very few B's or C+'s.  If they hadn't prepared
by reading the plays and seeing the performances, they could not bluff
(one student came in prepared to do just that but gave in to honesty
after writing several joking answers).  Books and notes were closed
during the exam, but the best students remembered details of the plays
very well.  I had no fixed answer in mind for any of the questions, and
I did try to reward originality, if the student backed up an opinion
with evidence from the play.  The cautionary "No BS" at the end seems to
have worked fairly well.  Some things that the students at large did not
seem to notice: the consistency of Hal/Henry's behavior
towards Falstaff, Bardolph and their ilk, before and after he becomes
king, and the black humor in the wit of Richard III and in the behavior
of Jack Cade.  The answers on the "gentle gamester" question, while
missing the connection between "gentle" and "aristocratic," were
excellent on Henry's gamesmanship, bluffing, playing odds, so that the
answers taught me things I had not yet perceived.  Any more comments on
methodology?  Roy Flannagan

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