Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Planning to take my State Nursing Boards!


One of the many splendid activities I have done this summer has been grading papers for an adjunct professor at a local college. The professor teaches a biology course of some kind, one specifically geared towards students looking to become registered nurses. I usually grade exams, specifically exams taken by students off campus which cannot be run through the Scantron machine. These tests consist of 40 multiple choice questions, 10 true or false questions, and one essay. Not counting the essay, which was graded specifically by the professor, the majority of the tests I graded had an average score of about 57%. The highest test I can recall from memory was around 68%. I found this disconcerting, and asked the professor if this was the norm for the entire class. The professor shrugged and, in a voice marked by suppressed irritation, proceeded to explain how he e-mailed students detailed slides, gave them essay topics in advance, and offered to take personal phone calls from students with questions about the material.

This evening I graded the final examination for the class, again only the multiple answer section, there were 100 questions. The average of the students I graded (again, not the entire class, only the off campus students) was 57%. I decided, after having graded the exams, to take the exam myself, just to see how hard it really was. I had done this in the past with a Body Structure and Function class – a biology class for science majors, and required for students wishing to enter the nursing program – and earned a 77% on one exam, and a 81% on another. My background in biology, as an Arts and Humanities major (History), is limited to non-science major science. In high school I took AP Biology I, AP Biology II, in college I took General Biology and Human Biology. My father is a medical doctor, and my mother is a registered nurse. I admit that all of these things have given me the ability to do well on science tests, including these lower level collegiate science classes for nursing majors. I tell you this to give you an idea of what I know with regards to the sciences.

So I sit down to take the final exam, all 100 questions, without having attended a lecture or looked at a slide. I can freely admit that some educated guessing was involved a good number of questions. The test took me a total of about 50 minutes. The students at the college had 3 hours to take the exam, but finished in about an hour and 20 minutes. I only took 50 minutes because I did some guessing, and I have nothing invested in the outcome of the exam. The actual students, for some reason or another, decided to coast through the exam as quickly as possible. I turned the completed copy of the exam over to the professor for grading, and in the end learned that I earned a 65% on the final exam. There were two questions that I could not answer, and two questions that I would have gotten right if I didn’t get confused. So 64 to 66% was my ability on this final exam.

Allow me to recap. I took a 100 question final exam in a class designed for nursing students who are prepping for the State Nursing Boards, and earned a 65%, a solid D. I earned this solid D as a Arts and Humanities student who has never taken a “for science majors” science class, who hasn’t taken any science class since the fall of my sophomore year, and who never attended a single class for which the final was given. Even with all of those things against me, I earned a 65%. I passed. Not only did I pass, but I bested, by quite a bit, the average of the students I grade, while rivaling the averages of the rest of the students.

With that, I think I am ready to take my State Nursing Boards. I now trust myself with the lives of others more than I trust the students of this biology class. It’s frightening to think that some of these students will one day become nurses, and will one day have the life of another in their hands. Does anybody else find this disturbing, or am I overreacting?

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