Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Is Wallpapering Hacking?

Hacking, in the beginning, was an honorable tradition of learning how to control and use a computer, for something useful, without having access to machine and language manuals. It was playing (question/answers/verify; just as is done in putting a puzzle together). It was pioneering. It was empowering. It was fun. Over time, “hacking” became all of the above, but with malice intent. A few bad apples tarnished the image of the bright and the bold.

Dumb wallpapering, marking the same option, “C” for example, if you do not know, does not improve test results or student scores. Smart wallpapering, creating a unique answer pattern PRIOR to seeing the test, yields improved KJS results. It can rather uniformly alter student scores.

When the wallpaper contains a right answer, everyone who uses the wallpaper mark gets a right answer. This holds for low quality and high quality students. This is fair. The class, the team, wins or loses together. This is the same level that standardized Dumb Testing data makes sense in ranking classes and schools.

Wallpapering reduces test stress by reducing the time and effort wasted on trying to find the “best answer” to a question you cannot read or understand, let along have nothing in mind for an answer.

Wallpapering is hacking:

  1. It restricts a wrong mark to one option per question. (The mathematical model for Dumb Testing assumes that a student randomly marks wrong answers. This is not true. The model also assigns the starting test value to zero. This is not true. On a 4-option question test, the starting value is 25%, on average.)
  2. Students are acting in collusion. (It makes no difference if individual students decide before the test or during the test what option to make for a forced mark. Wallpapering requires the selection to be made BEFORE seeing the test.)

Wallpapering is not hacking:

  1. It only formalizes the advice students have been given for decades: “Mark ‘C’ if you cannot select a ‘best’ answer”.
  2. It does not change Dumb Testing standardized test scores. 

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