Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Learning Experience

So, just to remind everyone,

1. I have failed the Physics Oral Comprehensive exam twice.
2. Dept. policy is "we don't give freedback"
3. I have no freaking clue what I need to do to pass.

So I finally managed to track down the director of graduate studies (Physics Dept) in his office today. Now I freely admit I did not really expect this to be a a productive meeting, but I didn't expect it to be inflammatory. After all Dr. Doak is known to have the personality of an inanimate carbon rod.

So my first point was that I was concerned that we would not have a solution to the problem of the oral exams. Doak deferred to bureaucratic procedure. The Graduate collage has guidelines that say you can not repeat the exam within three months, oh, and by the way, the physics dept has decided that the day of the "exam" is the day they deign to tell you the result, not the day you actually did the exam. Ok, so that would put things out another three weeks to the right. *grumble*. Oh,a nd it's not his responsibility to schedual these things, that's a different comitee.

My second concern is that the students are not recieving any feedback. Doak replied that they have never provided feedback. I asked how you can expect the students to improve if they don't know what they did wrong. His response: "It's not intended to be a learning experience"

Yeah, verbatim. It's not intended to be a learning experience.

WTF Over? Seriously. WTF?

Ok, I get his point, the exam itself is not intended to teach, but to test. But if I measure a system, intentionaly make certain no input goes into the system, and measure it again. I damn well ought to expect the same result.

Ok I have "checked the box". I can honestly say I tried talking to the head of the Graduate Program.

By hapensatance my advisor was in his office. He was torqued off about how the department was treating him, and his response to my situation was basically "well I've raised my objections and no one listens to me." Yeah, Funny. I know how that feels. I told him I didn't see the point of waiting untill next year to do this again and wait 3-4 weeks to see if the coin ended up heads or tails. He thought that that was an unfair comparison. Yeah, well it may not be a coin flip, but it's a classic black box. It may or may not be deterministic, but you sure can't tell from the outside.

After class I actually managed to get ahold of Dr. Menendez, who is in charge of the graduate committe (not to be confused with the graduate program). He was vaguely unaware that he was supposed to schedual the graduate exams, but opined that they would probably just do them in August like always. He actually seemed very personable, if somewhat befuddled. No real help though. He did however agree that the students ought to get some feedback.

Box number two.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong here, but what the hell is the point?

Somebody give me one good reason (that is not a sunk cost fallacy) why I should spend one more single dime at ASU or spend a single minute doing any research or taking any classes until I know I can get past this barrier?

So, whatever you do. DO NOT GO TO ASU.
Do not allow your children to go to ASU.
Nor their children, or cousins, or well, anyone you actually give a rat's rear end about...

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