Written Exams

Written Exams

Joined: October 23rd, 2007, 2:20 pm

October 23rd, 2007, 2:25 pm #1

My partner and I are getting ready to test one of our students for his first degree black belt. As part of his testing requirements, we would like to have him take a written exam on the history of the art, principles & concepts etc. Do any of you require written exams for your black belt students and if so, would you be willing to share a sample test with me so I don't have to reinvent the wheel? Any help or advice you can give is greatly appreciated.
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Joined: June 15th, 2005, 3:34 am

October 23rd, 2007, 5:54 pm #2

An exam is fair when based on data the student has been exposed to. I've written several exams for BB, but make sure each time that I base them on material the student has seen before. Honestly, I think a prof should write their own, as you'll be the best authority on what you required as readings, etc. Infinite Insights? The Encyclopedia? I also include Way and the Power, Tao of Jeet Kune Do, Karate: My Way of Life, and several others through the course of their black belt prep. So I can write to themes,ideas, and definitions I know are stressed in each.

Glad to see you doing it; develops the dragon, and not just the tiger.

D.
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Joined: October 23rd, 2007, 2:20 pm

October 23rd, 2007, 7:58 pm #3

Thank you for your response and your questions. Actually I am planning on writing the exam myself, using basically Infinite Insights Vol. 1-5; the Encyclopedia; and references to different hand outs, articles and books I have provided to students over the years on different topics related to principles and concepts (including but not limited to: Lee Wedlake's series; Living the Martial Way; articles I have read from various kenpoists in magazines etc. among others). All of these were required reading for this particular student and have been discussed repeatedly in class with him over the years. There is just so much material that I could potentially include, I was wondering what others have "concentrated on" when designing their own tests, and in what format you have set up your tests to assess not only the student's accumulated knowledge, but also their ability to "articulate" their knowledge? My goal is to make it sufficiently challenging and address topics a 1st degree should be able to answer and articulate, having studied the system for over 5 years (this particular student's time in...he's 22 years old with a H.S. diploma-no college and had prior training in another style, though not in Kenpo), regarding the forms; techniques; history of the art; topics such as family relationships etc. without being redundant in the "way" I ask the questions. I am curious as to whether others typcially format their tests with all or mostly essay questions; true and false; fill in the blank etc. or a combination of all of the above? What have you found to be the best format to actually test the student's knowledge and allow them to "articulate" their knowledge in a written format? (this is my first student I am submitting for black belt, so in that regard, it is a little bit of an experiment for me with regard to designing his test). We also are requiring him to write an orignal thesis; complete a P.T. test and 3 mile run; do techniques and forms; sparring; a mass attack defense and a weapons disarm attack section (knife, stick & gun) done in a freestle attack format. With the thesis, I basically used the outline in the Encyclopedia as the format for the thesis requirments. I've never written/designed a black belt test before, so I am a white belt in test design. As such, I am admittedly borrowing from the requirements on my previous belt tests in designing this test, and my current commercial school has only been open for 2 years (taught out of the garage for a few years before that), so it is a learning experience for me as well and I am finding it a great way for me to review the system again from an "overview" perspective but am not sure what to leave in and what to leave out or how to cover it all succinctly in a test format. I took a written test when I tested for 1st degree black over 10 years ago but I thought the test was way too easy and did not cover enough on the principles and concepts that I had been studying, so I don't really want to use my old test as an example. It just seems that there is so much I could include, and I need to cut it off somewhere, so I was wondering how other, more experienced teachers such as yourself have handled this in the past. Any guidance you can offer on how you have approached designing your tests is appreciated i.e types of questions; how many questions do you think are appropriate for a 1st degree test given tne extensive amount of material we have to choose from to potentially include etc?? What do you consider to be absolute "must include" topics on the list of things to cover on a 1st degree written test, as opposed to the "may want to include but don't have to" topics (if any)? I realize every school;teacher; organization is slightly different in their approach to testing and what they require but the principles & concepts remain the same for all I would think. So how do others "test" their students? Any advice or guidance is appreciated. (sorry I am so long winded...! This is why I need help on where to "cut if off" on the test).
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Joined: June 17th, 2006, 1:33 am

October 23rd, 2007, 8:32 pm #4

Given the subject matter and how miserable I am on and about three weeks before test day, throw the book at them but make it take home and open book. It's more exposure to the material that manifests on the mat than it is rote memorization. Give me time and good material and you're much more likely to effect my attitude and motivation.

Thanks!
CT

but that's just my opinion I could be wrong.
Dennis Miller
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Joined: October 23rd, 2007, 2:20 pm

October 23rd, 2007, 8:51 pm #5

Thank you Mr. Tavis. I hadn't thought of an open book exam format but that would allow me to cover more material I would think and the student may produce better answers if able to come up with them at home, in a relaxed setting. Has anyone else tried the open book exam approach or have any thoughts on this idea? I had a few open book exams in college/grad school but to be honest, I always found them harder than regular exams because the professor expected more. Does that create more or less stress on a student I wonder??
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Joined: June 15th, 2005, 3:34 am

October 23rd, 2007, 9:27 pm #6

Thank you for your response and your questions. Actually I am planning on writing the exam myself, using basically Infinite Insights Vol. 1-5; the Encyclopedia; and references to different hand outs, articles and books I have provided to students over the years on different topics related to principles and concepts (including but not limited to: Lee Wedlake's series; Living the Martial Way; articles I have read from various kenpoists in magazines etc. among others). All of these were required reading for this particular student and have been discussed repeatedly in class with him over the years. There is just so much material that I could potentially include, I was wondering what others have "concentrated on" when designing their own tests, and in what format you have set up your tests to assess not only the student's accumulated knowledge, but also their ability to "articulate" their knowledge? My goal is to make it sufficiently challenging and address topics a 1st degree should be able to answer and articulate, having studied the system for over 5 years (this particular student's time in...he's 22 years old with a H.S. diploma-no college and had prior training in another style, though not in Kenpo), regarding the forms; techniques; history of the art; topics such as family relationships etc. without being redundant in the "way" I ask the questions. I am curious as to whether others typcially format their tests with all or mostly essay questions; true and false; fill in the blank etc. or a combination of all of the above? What have you found to be the best format to actually test the student's knowledge and allow them to "articulate" their knowledge in a written format? (this is my first student I am submitting for black belt, so in that regard, it is a little bit of an experiment for me with regard to designing his test). We also are requiring him to write an orignal thesis; complete a P.T. test and 3 mile run; do techniques and forms; sparring; a mass attack defense and a weapons disarm attack section (knife, stick & gun) done in a freestle attack format. With the thesis, I basically used the outline in the Encyclopedia as the format for the thesis requirments. I've never written/designed a black belt test before, so I am a white belt in test design. As such, I am admittedly borrowing from the requirements on my previous belt tests in designing this test, and my current commercial school has only been open for 2 years (taught out of the garage for a few years before that), so it is a learning experience for me as well and I am finding it a great way for me to review the system again from an "overview" perspective but am not sure what to leave in and what to leave out or how to cover it all succinctly in a test format. I took a written test when I tested for 1st degree black over 10 years ago but I thought the test was way too easy and did not cover enough on the principles and concepts that I had been studying, so I don't really want to use my old test as an example. It just seems that there is so much I could include, and I need to cut it off somewhere, so I was wondering how other, more experienced teachers such as yourself have handled this in the past. Any guidance you can offer on how you have approached designing your tests is appreciated i.e types of questions; how many questions do you think are appropriate for a 1st degree test given tne extensive amount of material we have to choose from to potentially include etc?? What do you consider to be absolute "must include" topics on the list of things to cover on a 1st degree written test, as opposed to the "may want to include but don't have to" topics (if any)? I realize every school;teacher; organization is slightly different in their approach to testing and what they require but the principles & concepts remain the same for all I would think. So how do others "test" their students? Any advice or guidance is appreciated. (sorry I am so long winded...! This is why I need help on where to "cut if off" on the test).
I like paragraph, with a certain number of points necessary to be noted in the answer.

"Describe the main themes in 5 Sword,s, and list 10 concepts/principles that are illustrated or explored in the course of the ideal phase"

"Define each of the phases of motion, and what the primary hallmarks of each phase are"

"What are the main learning objective covered in SF1?" (repeat for all the forms)

"Discuss the strategic advantages and disadvantages for of the Neutral Bow position, and how some of these are accomodated for in foot maneuvers and transitions to other stances."

"Name 3 techniques that effectively cancel width on the forst move in response to a single hand push. What are the similarities and differences between each, and how do they apply to adapting reactions to the nature of the attack?"

I agree with Craig: Let them go open book; the act of rifling through the material will do them good, and expose them to several ideas thay may not have called up out of rote memory. Writing them down in the exam will serve to solidify them as much as memorizing stuff.

Hope it helps,

D.
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 7:04 pm

October 23rd, 2007, 9:49 pm #7

As to whether or not they comprehend what they are reading,

It's one thing to have a book open in front of you with the information staring back at them but quite another for them to have to comprehend it and answer in their own words.

Their answers will give you a template to work on for future material for clearer understanding.

Back to the mats,

Angela
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Joined: September 28th, 2007, 9:07 pm

October 23rd, 2007, 10:07 pm #8

Thank you for your response and your questions. Actually I am planning on writing the exam myself, using basically Infinite Insights Vol. 1-5; the Encyclopedia; and references to different hand outs, articles and books I have provided to students over the years on different topics related to principles and concepts (including but not limited to: Lee Wedlake's series; Living the Martial Way; articles I have read from various kenpoists in magazines etc. among others). All of these were required reading for this particular student and have been discussed repeatedly in class with him over the years. There is just so much material that I could potentially include, I was wondering what others have "concentrated on" when designing their own tests, and in what format you have set up your tests to assess not only the student's accumulated knowledge, but also their ability to "articulate" their knowledge? My goal is to make it sufficiently challenging and address topics a 1st degree should be able to answer and articulate, having studied the system for over 5 years (this particular student's time in...he's 22 years old with a H.S. diploma-no college and had prior training in another style, though not in Kenpo), regarding the forms; techniques; history of the art; topics such as family relationships etc. without being redundant in the "way" I ask the questions. I am curious as to whether others typcially format their tests with all or mostly essay questions; true and false; fill in the blank etc. or a combination of all of the above? What have you found to be the best format to actually test the student's knowledge and allow them to "articulate" their knowledge in a written format? (this is my first student I am submitting for black belt, so in that regard, it is a little bit of an experiment for me with regard to designing his test). We also are requiring him to write an orignal thesis; complete a P.T. test and 3 mile run; do techniques and forms; sparring; a mass attack defense and a weapons disarm attack section (knife, stick & gun) done in a freestle attack format. With the thesis, I basically used the outline in the Encyclopedia as the format for the thesis requirments. I've never written/designed a black belt test before, so I am a white belt in test design. As such, I am admittedly borrowing from the requirements on my previous belt tests in designing this test, and my current commercial school has only been open for 2 years (taught out of the garage for a few years before that), so it is a learning experience for me as well and I am finding it a great way for me to review the system again from an "overview" perspective but am not sure what to leave in and what to leave out or how to cover it all succinctly in a test format. I took a written test when I tested for 1st degree black over 10 years ago but I thought the test was way too easy and did not cover enough on the principles and concepts that I had been studying, so I don't really want to use my old test as an example. It just seems that there is so much I could include, and I need to cut it off somewhere, so I was wondering how other, more experienced teachers such as yourself have handled this in the past. Any guidance you can offer on how you have approached designing your tests is appreciated i.e types of questions; how many questions do you think are appropriate for a 1st degree test given tne extensive amount of material we have to choose from to potentially include etc?? What do you consider to be absolute "must include" topics on the list of things to cover on a 1st degree written test, as opposed to the "may want to include but don't have to" topics (if any)? I realize every school;teacher; organization is slightly different in their approach to testing and what they require but the principles & concepts remain the same for all I would think. So how do others "test" their students? Any advice or guidance is appreciated. (sorry I am so long winded...! This is why I need help on where to "cut if off" on the test).
Sir.

Never having the priveledge of taking a BB test before, I would have some thoughts from another point of view. When I was preparing for my PhD, there were any number of classes with both tests and papers that were graded. Towards the end of the process (before writing the dissertation), there is an "oral exam" where those interested (or just plain mean) are allowed to pound you with any number of questions. Some questions were less pertinent that others, but that is for another day. At the end of the process, a "defense" of the dissertation is undertaken where, again, miscreants with nothing better to do grill the student unmercifully.

The point is, some students test better than others (written or oral). The martial arts also have the additional element of the physical dimension. I am new to EPAK, but not exactly new to Kenpo (Tracy's style, in my youth). I have NEVER taken a written test (through brown in the "other" group).

Can we rely on the results of a single written test to tell anything about the student testing for BB? Conversely, how would you handle a "failure" on the written test? For the record, I actually like the idea of written/oral tests along with the physical component!

tc
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Joined: June 15th, 2005, 3:34 am

October 23rd, 2007, 10:17 pm #9

No. Which is why I lso give quizzes once in a while, covering stuff that's been emphasized over the last coupa months. I keep copies, have them do the same, and even use some of the material in constructing the bigger exams.

D.
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Joined: October 23rd, 2007, 2:20 pm

October 24th, 2007, 1:55 am #10

Thank you to everyone who replied. I sincerely appreciate everyone's comments and points of view, which is why I posted the question. Thank you also to Mr. Crouch for his question examples. They are very helpful in getting me started.

I really like the open book exam suggestion and hadn't thought of that myself. I also recognize that some people test better than others (verbally, in writing or through physical motion) and that a single test is not the only or even best way to evaluate a student's knowledge per se, but we need some yardstick for advancement and assessment both as teachers and as students. I also think the overall testing process should consist of different requirements, both physically and mentally challenging enough to allow the student to express themself in more than one format. This is why I was planning on a combination-written exam, physical exam and an oral interview section. The student's combined scores will make up his overall grade and he wouldn't pass or fail based solely on how he does on one single portion.

Different black belts have strength in different aspects of the art. Some are great movers physically. Others are gifted at teaching or writing and articulating the art. Mr. Parker was a unique combination of all of the above and as the original standard setter, his is the example I was hoping to follow with respect to testing requirements by at least touching on the scholarly side of the art as well as the physical.

I will also be having visiting black belts on the testing panel that do not know the student as well as I do, so I thought the test questions would at least give everyone (student and testing panel) a starting point from which to evaluate the student's accumulated knowledge. The panel members should hopefully be able to assess the subject matter covered with the student based on the types of questions asked and the topics covered and can evaluate with that as a starting point. As his instructor, I know what he has been taught and how well he moves and loves the art. I wouldn't be recommending him for testing if I honestly doubted he was ready. I think the test is an opportunity on some level for the student to "showcase" how hard he or she has worked to be eligible to test for black and ultimtately wear a black belt. If it is too easy, I would feel like I was cheating the student of an opportunity to rise to a genuine challenge and I think the bigger the challenge, the greater the student will appreciate the experience.

I also think that as his instructor I may be unconsciously biased on some level, which is why I think it important that I am not the only person evaluating him. Some objective review by others is very helpful both to him, and to myself. If a student does poorly, the instructor must take responsibility for that and a panel of objective black belts sets the bar a little higher than if he were just testing in front of me I would think. Again, thanks to everyone for their insight, advice, comments and input!
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