Reflection on the Entrance Exam

In education, and especially in collegiate education, tests measure not what matters to students, but what matters to professors. This is on balance a very good thing, but it has its shortcomings. One of the biggest drawbacks with standard assignments is that they can fail to respect the different and unpredictable ways a class will educate particular students.

This assignment is one of several ways I am trying to compensate.

In the first week of this course you were supposed to complete an "entrance exam" which polled both your factual knowledge about the New Testament and its background and your opinions. It serves as a snapshot, albeit an imperfect one, of where you were at the beginning of the semester. Review that examination and look for three areas, on that exam or elsewhere, where this course has affected your thinking. (It is not necessary for the course to have changed an answer, for example from "false" to "true," in order for it to have affected your thinking. It may have reinforced a prior conviction, or made you more or less decided, or given you new reasons to hold your position, or new reasons to think that your position is more or less important than you had considered it before.) If the greatest transformations are in matters that are not addressed on the entrance exam, then please feel free to address them instead.

I am particularly interested in learning about how the course has (or has not) (a) informed you about the life and literature of the New Testament in terms of not only its content but also practices, attitudes, and virtues that embody its faithful use; (b) helped you become a versatile thinker who can use the tools of biblical scholarship along with tools of other disciplines to solve practical and intellectual problems; and (c) strengthen your commitment and preparedness for a lifetime of faithful work and learning. Nevertheless, I am not only interested in these areas; I am interested in whatever changes you wish to emphasize.

Write an essay describing to me how the readings, class time, conversations with students, and/or written assignments have changed your thinking on each area. You need of course to appeal explicitly to course materials to shape a persuasive answer. You may find Monroe especially helpful.

Please keep your paper three pages, double-spaced, and follow the directions in my handout for writing papers. Remember, I want to see proper style, clear writing, a thorough answer to the question, and explicit citations of course materials.

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