Memorization and regurgitation tests

So I had my first quiz of the semester today in my “Critical Perspectives on the News” (or journalism ethics, if you prefer) class today. The prof announced it would be 20 questions, short answer based on our course readings (mostly some Brill’s Content articles about the JonBenet Ramsey case, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and the CNN Tailwind story) and some current events questions.

Of these 20 questions, the answers to 18 of them were simply names. One question was even an outright opinion. Let me break some of them down for you:

Questions about JonBenet included: What were the names of her parents? What was the name of the Globe reporter that admitted fabricating stories? What did so-and-so (I forget who) publish as a scoop in the Rocky Mountain News that later turned out to be false?

Questions about the Monica story: What Newsweek reporter initally had the story? What internet journalist scooped him? Name another Newsweek reporter that worked on the story.

Questions about CNN included: Who were the two people fired for the Tailwind story? Who was the lawyer who led the review into the story? Who was the CEO of CNN at the time?

Current events questions: Name these people–PM of Israel, PM of England, US SecState, US SecDef, Chief UN Weapons Inspector, and (I am not making this up) “The country most opposed to US war in Iraq”. I guessed France.

Good lord. This is such a weak load of bullshit. I’m SO GLAD we weren’t tested on anything that actually had to do with what’s right and wrong and why in journalism, but rather we had to regurgitate a who’s who. Any moron could find out the names “Michael Isikoff” or “Matt Drudge” by doing maybe 5 seconds of research. Never mind the issues or concepts involved.

I’ve come across tests like this in middle school, high school, college, you name it. Personally, I think this kind of crap has no place outside of elementary schools when they are teaching you multiplication tables or something. But I bet I’m not the only doper who’s seen this. Name the presidents in order. Name all 50 states and their capitals. Name 100 elements and their chemical symbol. Memorize this poem/passage of Shakespeare. You get the idea.

I guess this has gotten kind of long, so I’ll close with a promise from my great 11th grade physics teacher: “I will never test you on or make you kids remember something any fool can look up in a book.”

Rote memorization is the best!

My guess would be Iraq.

Is ‘Memorization’ a real word?

Shouldn’t it be Memorizationalizationism?

In defense of your prof for this class, I’m going to say that a lot of the time tests like this are simply to prove to the instructor that you have done the required reading. When it comes to (responsible) journalism, what is and isn’t acceptable is pretty black and white. Don’t make shit up. Don’t tell half-truths. Do scoop the competition any chance you get. So basically the prof just needs to know that you’ve read the articles, and paid enough attention to the content that some of the most basic details stuck. Now, if the entire content of the class stays at that shallow level, I can see it being an issue but I don’t see the problem with taking those kinds of tests occasionally.

As for the 50 states thing–I’m all for that too. People who are ignorant of their own country’s geography have no business getting past the fifth grade, IMO. The periodic table memory tests always pissed me off though. That’s why there’s a table dammit! But (in my world) memorizing passages from literature is fun! What are you, some kind of freak?! :slight_smile:

I’m not so sure. From what I hear (never anything direct mind you, its not as if Iraqi’s could say so directly) most of the citizenry would not be averse to Saddam being taken down and out permanently.

My vote is for Germany. AT this rate they’ll start sending tanks south under the Fearless Leader Hussein’s command.

Wow, if you really believe that this demonstrates the limits of journalistic ethics, then it’s no wonder that so much bad journalism is swallowed so easily by so many people.

May i recommend a subscription to Columbia Journalism Review?

mhendo, dear, those were simply examples of some of the rather black-and-white issues I learned about while obtaining my own journalism degree. In no way did I mean to suggest that they were the breadth and depth of the entire field, and I really don’t see where I said that they were. Sorry if that was unclear to you.

That’s why my teacher gave up a periodic table the first day of classes and let us use it for tests. We’re even allowed to write cheat notes on it! Of course it’s already 2 weeks into class and I’ve got some stuff memorized. Just the stuff we use most often, though. Anything else is off in lala land.

My high school chem teacher gave us 2 words to remember summarizing the first two lines (after Hydrogen and Helium) of the Periodic Table:

libebcnofne (lie-bee-buh-cuh-nof-nee) and
namgalsipsclar (nah-mig-al-sip-sklar)

easy, peasy (and I remembered after 15 years!)