Reactions to the exam

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I don't know if anyone else agrees, but I was somewhat dissatisfied with today's exam. I suppose you might characterize my problem the opposite of the criticism last year's class seemed to have (if the Evidence 2006 wiki is any indication). Rather than considering the exam too random and open-ended to serve as a proper and fair evaluation of the class, today's exam seemed to me almost disappointingly conventional. I find this unsettling not simply because I was looking forward to an exam that prompted a more creative response than the average law school exam (and I think that was still the case with this year's, but definitely not to the same extent as last year's), but because of what it might represent about our experience with the rest of the class.

Having read through the "reactions to the exam" section from last year's evidence class and followed the post-exam fallout, was left with the impression that negative student reactions may have changed this class between 2006 and 2007 (although students' problem seemed to be with the exam, not the class). After taking today's exam, this impression is even stronger. I recall that among this class's concerns at the beginning of the year was the upcoming exam, and now I'm beginning to feel this type of concern -- and professor Nesson's reaction to it -- may have changed the class for the worse. At the beginning of the course, the professor explained how he feels grading can damage a learning experience; what I wonder now is whether he restrained his teaching in some way because what we would have learned defied evaluation in a conventional exam. If so, if this course has been altered (in response to student demand) to make it more like a "normal" Harvard Law class, I think we've all lost out.

Now I'm not saying all the changes between this year and last year are for the worse. In fact, since I have no direct experience with last year's course, I can't compare the two very well at all. Mainly I pose this entry as a question to professor Nesson himself (as well as a prompt for thoughts from the rest of the class) -- in what ways is this year's evidence course different from last year's? Have we been getting "Nesson's evidence"?

Again, I don't intend this entry as a criticism, but more of an inquiry. Having looked over last year's exam, I can say it left a lot more room for creativity than this year's -- how much of that carries over to the class at large?

And then, perhaps next week will be time for something completely new and different (it's certainly shaping up that way).


Take a look through the exam archives:

In 2003-2004, the exam consisted of a multiple choice section (with room for commentary) and an issue spotter.

The 2002-2003 exam had a multiple choice section (with no room for commentary), an issue spotter, and an open essay.

The 2001-2002 exam was far more free form.

And so on down the line. Professor Nesson does something different every year.

If you look at people's class notes that were posted on the 2006 wiki, or if you listen to the audio files, I think we're getting just as much of "Nesson's evidence" as ever.

And as for creativity: I think we're all free to be as creative -- or not-creative -- as we'd like in this course. If you don't feel you've had enough room for creativity, you could (for example) start a wiki page, say something exciting!

JP 18:46, 12 January 2007 (EST)