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Appendix A: Example Test and Quiz Questions

Quiz questions are based on the main ideas presented in the readings and the class lecture and discussion of the readings. These questions are drawn from facts, definitions, meaning of concepts, and statement of arguments. Generally, the subject of the quiz is a specific body of acquired information that can be learned by attentive reading, underlining in the text, active listening, and, as a last resort, memorizing. Perhaps, the quiz subjects can be thought of as the passive transference of a set body of information from one source (teacher, reading, or student) to another (student).

For many people these passive methods are not in themselves exciting and motivating. Self-initiated activity and shared inquiry are much more interesting than reinforced conformity. For this reason, test questions are based on the information learned for quizzes, but go well beyond rote learning. Tests present the opportunity to play with the ideas, relate them to each other, and operate with them. The best way to prepare is by free activity and thinking about the course content. This is probably the only kind of learning which is meaningful and authentic because it relies on your interest and initiative for its own sake.

The difference between passive and active learning can be illustrated by the following example question as asked on a test and a quiz. For example, a theoretical definition is the definition of a term with respect to a philosophical or scientific hypothesis or, in other words, the explanation of the nature of something in accordance with a scientific account of the objects to which the term is applicable.

Sample Quiz Questions

1. What is a theoretical definition?

2. A theoretical definition stipulates the nature of an object. (True / False).

3. A ___________ definition is a scientifically useful account of the objects referred to by the term.

Sample Test Questions

1. Clearly distinguish between a stipulative definition and a theoretical definition and give and example of each kind.

2. Explain whether theoretical definitions have a truth value or not. Do theoretical definitions correspond to events or objects? Explain your reasoning.

3. Construct a theoretical definition of the term ‘water.’

4. Which of the following definitions are theoretical?

a. "A calendar is constructed in terms of a well established and continuing sequence of repetitive events. The term ‘calendar’ rather than the more usual ‘clock’ is used advisedly here since a clock is generally used to provide a measure of time intervals rather than the absolute measure of time necessary for considerations of time reversal."(Sachs, "Time Reversal," Science (12 May 1972), 587.

b. "Much of the controversy surrounding the existence of cRNA (chromosomal RNA) stems from a misunderstanding of its definition. Artman and Roth define cRNA as ‘the RNA associated with the proteins which float in 4M CsCl.’" Holmes, et. al., "Chromosomal RNA: Its Properties," Science (7 July 1972), 73.

c. "In August thousands of Microsoft Word users’ computers were infected with a virus that spread equally fast regardless of whether they were using Macintoshes or Intel-style PCs. The offending code was a macro—a miniature program—whose instructions were carried out by an interpreter that Microsoft had built into the newest version of the word-processing software. This "virtual machine" was independent of the underlying hardware." Wallich, "Meta-Virus," Scientific American (November, 1995), 34.

d. "The function that is integrated over time to get the action S is called the Lagrangian, , which is a function only of the velocities and positions of particles. So the principle of least action is also written

t2 .. S = ( xi vi ) dt
t1 ................

where by xi and vi were meant all the components of the positions and velocities. So if you hear someone talking about the ‘Lagrangian,’ you know they are talking about the function that is used to find S." (Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. II (London: Addison -Wesley, 1964), 8-9.)

e. "The genetic environment of a given gene includes not only the genetic background (Chetverikov 1926) of the given zygote on which it is temporarily placed, but also the entire gene pool of the local population in which it occurs." Mayr, Populations, Species, and Evolution (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard, 1970), 169.

f. "The Registry is roughly analogous to the INI files used under Windows 3.x, with each key in the Registry similar to a bracketed heading in an INI file and with Registry values similar to entries under the INI headings, "Microsoft Windows 95 Resource Kit (Redmond, Wash.: Microsoft Press, 1995), 1018.

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