Thursday, May 10, 2007

A sign of the moral decay of America's youth

Yesterday I gave an exam to my majors biology course, on which I had a (I thought) relatively simple question asking students to design an experiment to test whether a certain species of animals was monogamous or not.

More than ten students called me over during the exam to ask what the word monogamous meant.

Wouldn't the conservative pundits have a field day?

1 comment:

Radagast said...

Importing comments:

Hmm, I think I forgot to include the sarcasm tags around the title (or maybe blogger removed them). In any case, I completely agree with both of you: it was, of course, a simple matter of vocabulary, not a sign of moral decay.

Sadly, SC, I must say that while your answers would get a smiley next to them, they would also receive a 0, as none of them are feasible experimental designs.
May 12, 2007, 12:29:29 AM PDT – Like – Reply

Semantic Compositions
I tend to agree with sya that this might say more about their vocabularies than anything else; I'm regularly shocked and dismayed by the project-related words that managers don't seem to recognize, although I'd be in all sorts of trouble if I gave examples.

But I'm more curious about the experiments. Female rhino volunteers paid to go up to male rhinos and say "Me so horny" to see what happens? Duck temptresses trying to lead their drakes astray? Or going the other way, drosophila fathers with shotguns dragging their future son-in-laws to the altar and threatening to make honest flies out of them?
May 11, 2007, 2:20:55 PM PDT – Like – Reply

I think it's less a sign of "moral decay" and more evidence that students these days don't have a very extensive vocabulary base. I've certainly noticed this, even as a measly TA, and I have to second guess everything I say in case my words go right over their heads or make them think I'm pretentious.
May 10, 2007, 6:29:32 PM PDT