“I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don’t know the answer”

24 03 2010

It’s been an insanely stressful week, mentally speaking, but then again isn’t most stress just mental?  Or is that just me that is mental?  At any rate, it has been stressful and I think part of that stress is attributed to me trying to make sense of the vague and wanting a precise answer instead of a generic one. This all revolves around my college course and the upcoming midterm exam and my inexperience in the medical field.  In the technology class I had the benefit of utilizing software such as Microsoft Word for over ten years and thus, when the tests would prompt to say change the spacing for the paragraph, I could figure out two or three other ways to skin the cat and deduce the right answer.  I don’t have that benefit in this course though.

The trouble began last week during a midterm review discussion.  It actually started prior to that with the team work of digging up answers to the review questions.  For a few hours those in our team dug through books and notes to locate the answers to over one hundred questions.  And then others who didn’t utilize those hours wisely copied our work off of weaker willed teammates.  Flash forward from that irritation festering inside to the review discussion period.  We take turns as a class reading off the question and the answers we found and there was immediately acknowledged contradictory responses between what the book had as the right answer and the right answer from those with medical experience such as our teacher and a few classmates.

So I asked the obvious question – which answer is right?  Well they both are.  And while that is all well and good that both answers are correct, perhaps I should better word my question.  And I did – which answer will be acceptable for the midterm?  Either, I am told.  But this midterm isn’t a fill in the blank test, it’s multiple choice.  And as I try to explain that if I have spent weeks studying the correct combining form for a word meaning chest as steth/o – as the book indicates it is called – it won’t do me a damn bit of good if steth/o isn’t even listed as an option to select.  At that point a classmate pointed out that we are likely expected to put two and two together and deduce our answer.  And again, that is wonderful to hear if you at least know the path to head down.

I let it go but then question after question appeared where the book had one answer and the teacher and those with medical experience had another.  So I tried to ask in a different way – who is designing the test, the teachers or is it pre-designed by the makers of the book?  I wasn’t given a straight answer despite asking it three or four different ways.  I couldn’t get the instructor to comprehend that yes, while she and those with medical field experience can look at a question like What therapeutic device is used to treat ventricular fibrillation? and can deduce the right answer from a list.  But for me, if I study the review material based on what the teacher says and associate the answer of defibrillator and the test is seeking the answer from the book of implantable cardioverter – how the hell am I going to put two and two together to figure out the best answer?  The two are not even similar answers.

On the drive home from class I replayed my questions and the teacher’s responses and chose to write her an apology for seeming argumentative, as I thought perhaps she took my behaviour as arguing for simply the sake of arguing or showing my ass.  I tried to calmly and rationally, with examples, explain my position in that I needed to know where I should take my knowledge from for the test – no matter what was right or wrong in the real world of the field.

Two days later she finally wrote me back simply to say I was disruptive – very disruptive to the class, no less.  And then, she continued with this position of her back against some proverbial wall and said that I was right, her real world experience didn’t mean anything – which couldn’t be farther from my words or thoughts.  And still no clarification as to the expected answers.

The best I can hope for is to have luck on my side this coming Saturday.

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