I won The Listserve, and sent a pop quiz

Every day, The Listserve picks one of its reader to compose a message, max 600 words, to the 22K-ish subscribers. Anything. Skews a little too much to Life Lessons Learned but interesting things happen often enough that I’m still reading, several years in. Last week my number came up on The Listserve and I gave a pop quiz. This is word for word, but since The Listserve doesn’t allow images, I’ve added a few links where the original questions had pictures. The numbers in [square brackets] are the values of the questions; you’ll need to know. New June 28th: How to study.

I teach. Here are some of my favourite questions from actual tests in INTEG120 Introduction to the Academy, INTEG251 Creative Thinking, FINE274 Figure & Anatomy, FINE204 The Art, Science & History of Colour, and PSYCH306 Perception.

1. One of the basics of working well with other people is learning their names. There are thirty-five students in this class. Name them. Yes, you may look around. No, you may not signal to one another. [5]

2. On this Lucian Freud painting, Naked Portrait, 2005, mark the left medial malleolus with a star. [1]

3. Why is this xkcd cartoon (552) funny? [4]

4. Bloom’s Taxonomy describes six levels of abstraction at which we know a subject. Name them, in any order. For each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, write a non-trivial question about insects that would give a student a chance to demonstrate meaningful mastery of some insect-related subject. [12]

5. This notorious Ithaca Times cover illustration appears to show tuition at Cornell University skyrocketing while quality plummets. Graphs of the source data are shown below it. Describe at least three deceptive practices that make this cover perhaps “the most misleading graph ever published.” [6]

6. Recently, while working in a national park in Indonesia, British nature photographer David Slater had his camera swiped by a (critically endangered) crested black macaque. Before Slater recovered it, the macaque took some photos that were widely published. An American website, techdirt, published some of them in an online article about the intellectual property issues involved. Now Caters News Agency, the UK agency which represents the work of Mr. Slater, has asked techdirt to take down the photographs. What type(s) of intellectual property protection might apply in this case? Who “owns” the photographs, and why? Should techdirt take down the photographs, and why? In your argument, discuss the costs and benefits to the parties involved and to society. [10]

7. Imagine a world-class athlete, long retired and now a healthy but frail senior citizen. Considering the model of expertise described in Malcolm Gladwell’s article, The Physical Genius, do you believe that athlete is still a physical genius? Why, or why not? [5]

8. Imagine that a person with congenital achromatopsia takes the colour course. She’s smart. She practices and studies hard. Thinking about the content and assessment, what mark do you predict she would get, and why? [5]

9. Imagine that humans suddenly develop a new sense, the ability to detect the age of an object or organism by touch. It is first detected in a seamstress who can reliably tell apart vintage silk dresses and modern replicas made with new silk fabric although they seem to be identical in appearance, materials and construction. Many or most other humans develop this sense, and are able to sort almost everything—carrots, cars, castles and cats—by age. Imagine that you are pioneering the psychophysical research to establish the properties of this new sense. Describe the procedure of a useful experiment you could conduct and what possible pattern(s) of results you would expect to find. [5]

Imagine that this sense is attributed to a new sensory receptor—the age-o-tron—that seems to have four types (fast- and slow-adapting, with large or small receptive fields). What type(s) of stimuli do you hypothesize would have the strongest effect on each age-o-tron, and why? [8]

FINALLY, AS ON EVERY TEST I GIVE, THE METACOGNITION BONUS: So far, this test is out of 61 marks. How many do you estimate you have earned? If you are within plus or minus 5, I will give you a 3% bonus on your overall grade.

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