Grading exams can be loads of fun!

Sometimes, I wonder if my students are attending the same class that I am teaching, especially when I am grading their exams.  This semester, I tried something a bit different with the final exams, as all classes had bonus questions:  in History of Pennsylvania, they could list sites on “The Pennsylvania Road Show” video shown in class; in History of the Early Republic, they could list the three historic sites discussed in class earlier in the semester in two PowerPoint presentations (which included lots of photographs from last summer’s “magical history tour”); and in United States History since 1877, the bonus questions involved the recall of specific information taught during the first two parts of the course (material covered on the first and second exams).  This way, my students were rewarded for paying attention (and for coming to class), and yet they were not penalized if they could not recall information from three months ago.  I’ll get to the results of the bonus questions later.  But first, what everyone has been waiting for…more examples of revisionist history from my students.

These examples come from the final drafts of research papers (yes, some glitches still managed to appear as part of the revision process), along with exams in all three of my classes.  As a warning, it probably is best not to have liquid in your mouth when reading some of these responses.

His first contact with enemy troops was made under a flag of truths.

Pennsylvania was a multi-demonical state.

Hosmer suggests that the sketchy archaeological findings were due to archaeologist’s inexperience in interpretation of the Colonial Period, and that they were not interested in sites that could be betrayed through historical documentation.

High inflation, absorbent gas prices, and the hostage crisis in Iran were just a few of the things that made the Keystone state ready for a change.

People can only make educated guesses when it comes to early history of the Susquehannocks which are based by the artifacts that have been funded.

Bows and arrows were buried with the died worriers.

Penn chased two men that would walk for the amount of time and when time was up the land the men walked become a part of the colony of Pennsylvania.

This caused wars for all the white men, because they did not care how Indians reacted when they forested them farther and farther into the frosted land.

The most important election of this time that shifted political ideas was during 1974 when Gerald Ford took Nixon’s place in office after he was impeached for his involvement in Watergate.

Nixon got us through the Vietnam War and after trying to get re-elected he was found for his Watergate Scandal and will be forever known as being the first president to be impeached and cheating his way to victory.

Enemies list was created by President Nixon of fellow politicians, businesses, organizations and people, including celebrities like Bill Cosby and Carl Channing.  These people were either very vocal in regards to their opposition of Nixon and his policies, or he didn’t like pudding.

Temperance promoted the seduction of alcoholic drinks.

When winter came, the Donner Party starved and started eating each other but not their family because that would have been wrong.

Battle of Chapultepec:  Major battle between U.S. and Mexico.  U.S. won.  St. Patrick’s Brigade—U.S. soldiers fighting for Mexico, my Intro to Spanish II prof made us learn a song about this, I really did not enjoy it.

The Log Cabin and Hard Cider campaign was Jackson’s election strategy.  It made Jackson out to be a common man living in a log cabin and drinking hard cider.  Jackson actually lived in a mansion and not a cabin (surprisingly, four students wrote similar answers to this one; I presume they studied together, but they should have found different study partners).

Mormons moved to Utah to settle in a land that was purely Catholic.

Seneca Falls Convention:  was a convention that took place to see what should be done with the Native Americans.  This was during Jackson’s Presidency, in which he wanted to expand west but needed to get rid of the Indians.

The officers were to be treated as bad as humidly possible.

Their pleas fell on death ears.

President Washington set a president that no matter what the law was it must be followed.

It was during Washington’s surveying of land in western Pennsylvania he found large portions of land he would later acquire through some risqué maneuvers.

Kennedy’s New Frontier had the foundations of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Truman’s New Square.

Black Panthers:  Popular Black Power group, followed police to protect against harassment toward African Americans.  Public thought Martin Luther King was their favorite spokesperson.

Vietnamization:  Nixon’s plan for “Peace Without Honor.”

Wounded Knee:  was an area of land that the United States gave back to the Native Americans after the battle wiped out Sioux.

Nauvoo, Illinois:  Was the starting point of the Oregon Trail where everyone set out to get to California.

Seneca Falls Convention:  Women’s rights convention that fought for and got a treaty for some women’s rights like the right to vote.

The Mormons were not accepted into society in the east, so they sought an uninhabitable land where no one desired to live to be closer to God.

People also faced religious prosecution in Europe.

The Molly Maguires were a secret organization of Irish Catholic ingrates.

Immigration brought to PA diversity from many ethnic groups from Germany, Ireland, Roman Catholics, France, Africa, Switzerland, Poland, England and Turkey and others that brought changes in art, culture, religion, traditions, new languages to neighborhoods.

Ida Tarbell:  exposed the steel industry flaws

James Michener:  A Pennsylvania governor and major supporter of JFK.  Once considered running for the presidency but failed and later regretted the decision.

Now, for the results of the bonus questions:  Only a couple of students didn’t attempt the bonus question in Pennsylvania history, with bonus points ranging from 1 to 14 (which meant that one fortunate soul earned 108 on his final exam).  For the Early Republic class, over half identified Hopewell Furnace as one of the historic sites, one-third identified Lowell Mills, and less than one-fourth identified Old Sturbridge Village (which was discussed the Friday before Spring break).  There was nothing special about Hopewell that would have made it more memorable than the other historic sites, except for the inclusion of this photo:

Costumed interpreter at Hopewell, 1984

For the U.S. history survey, the bonus question involved the recall of information covered earlier in the semester:  the name of the elephant that was electrocuted in the Coney Island documentary viewed in class and the name of the person who spoke to the class in early February and what topic he talked about.  Almost 1/3 of the students remembered the name of the elephant (Topsy, for those of you playing at home), and almost 1/3 remembered the topic–and slightly more than 1/4 remembered who spoke.  For those of you who are completely confused, in early February I incorporated an audio clip of Charles Shaughnessy speaking on why he chose to become a U.S. citizen–and the purpose of the bonus question was mainly to find out if they remembered what he talked about.  The fact that almost 1/3 of them recalled the topic almost three months later (without being warned about it being on the final exam) was quite impressive; the class had a take-home final, and the students completed the bonus question when they brought the print copy to class.  Of course, the fact that only two of the respondents knew Charlie’s name (the rest who responded correctly said Mr. Sheffield spoke to the class) means that next time I probably should provide a better introduction if I expect them to remember his name.

One final thought before I open this blog post up for comments:  I have been a bit distracted this past week, but in a good way.  I have been following the creation of a new online show hosted by Lissa Coffey produced by Bus Stop 31 Productions and Bamboo Entertainment called Coffey Buzz.  It’s an online program that through the magic of  Hyperspots™ technology allows you to interact with the show.  The URL is; it’s worth checking out.

Anyway, happy reading!


About Karen

History Professor. Baseball fan. Author of two books, one of which I force my students to buy and read. You want me on your Trivial Pursuit team.
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8 Responses to Grading exams can be loads of fun!

  1. Beverly Tomek says:

    My favorite is:

    “Seneca Falls Convention: was a convention that took place to see what should be done with the Native Americans. This was during Jackson’s Presidency, in which he wanted to expand west but needed to get rid of the Indians.”

    Please, oh please, tell me this wasn’t a take home exam?!

    • Karen says:

      No, this wasn’t a take-home exam. It’s amazing what students come up with when they are staring at the ceiling, looking for answers.

  2. That was great! I’ve been looking forward to this for a week and it didn’t dissapoint. I found the part about “mr. Sheffield” especially funny. Considering that most of your students were most likely under 10 years old when that show was on. 🙂 Fantastic!

    • Karen says:

      Actually, these students don’t really remember the election of 2000, so they probably were too young to watch “The Nanny” when it was on CBS back in the 1990s. But, thanks to Nick-at-Nite, they are quite familiar with Mr. Sheffield. In fact, I think they remembered more about what Charlie said that day than what I said.

  3. Madison LoPresto says:

    Some of those mistakes are just rediculous, and things from the early republic class..I do people think these things are correct? do they come to class drunk/stoned/both?! Why oh why are these people still in college, let alone taking upper division history classes.. This is a case of Mr. Desk meeting Ms. Face.

    • Karen says:

      Let’s just say I can tell who studied together, both in the Early Republic class and in History of Pennsylvania. When you have 3-4 students who sit in different parts of the room (and, in one case, was in another building) submit similar incorrect answers–yes, they do need to find different study partners. I’m thinking that it’s also an example of one of the pitfalls of pulling all-nighters; you stay up all night studying, when you would actually be better prepared for the exam if you had gotten some rest.

  4. Jeannie says:

    I liked several, but I think I liked this one the best:
    Enemies list was created by President Nixon of fellow politicians, businesses, organizations and people, including celebrities like Bill Cosby and Carl Channing. These people were either very vocal in regards to their opposition of Nixon and his policies, or he didn’t like pudding.

    The pudding reference cracked me up.

    • Karen says:

      It really shocked the students that Bill Cosby’s name appeared on the Enemies List. They saw it as a sign that Nixon was a bit paranoid. As one student said in class, how could Cliff Huxtable be a threat to anyone?

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