Friday, October 26, 2007

How Did My Fordham University Students Do On Their Midterm Question about Ron Paul?

So how did my Intro to Communication and Media Studies class at Fordham University do on their midterm exam - and, in particular, the question about Ron Paul's mistreatment by mainstream news media.

You may recall that the open book exam consisted of three questions, with students required to answer two of the three. This was the first question:

1. Consider Ron Paul’s Presidential campaign the Source of communication. Using the Shannon-Weaver model, explain all the steps that the campaign must go through, in order to reach its Destination, the American people. Make sure you address each step in the process, as well as what can (and did) go wrong in the process, and possible remedies for addressing this. (Option: If you like to do this analysis for another Presidential candidate, that would be acceptable, but make sure you have specific examples to present.)

Here is a summary of relevant results.

a. A little more than 100 students took the exam (it's a "mega"-class). Of those, about 25% answered the above question.

b. All but one of the students who answered this question chose Ron Paul as the example. (One chose John Kerry's 2004 campaign.)

c. The students who answered this question did considerably better on this question than they and other students did on other questions: more than 90% received an A or A- on this question.

d. The students who answered this question also did considerably better than other students on the overall exam. The average grade on the exam for students who answered this question was A-. The average grade for the overall class was B/B+

e. Here is an excerpt from one of the Ron Paul answers. Mariel Di Biase (a sophomore) gave permission to indicate her name:

An example of noise in the Ron Paul campaign was that ABC presented misleading information to viewers regarding Paul's number of supporters and poll evidence. Some ways to combat noise are: (1)Change the way the message is sent - 'frequency'. This could be done by repetition or 'redundancy'. Paul could repeat the message using different/alternate channels, not ABC. (2) Increase the volume or amplitude. An example would be to turn up the volume on the TV during his speech. (3) Looking for problems in the system - feedback. This could be talking to ABC and addressing the issue.

Not bad for a high-pressure, in-class midterm essay exam. I have a little more confidence in the future now...
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