Two weeks ago I published the course outline distributed to MBA students at the University of the West Indies Graduate School of Business. You can take the 10 question true or false part of the final exam now, click here to go back for a refresher, or click here to take the multiple choice test first – your choice. Remember, you get to read only 1,000 words of background in a few minutes – unless you go back and read Are You Smarter Than a Guinea Pig? My students got to see and talk about more than 1,000 slides over 12 weeks. Readers who didn’t sit through 12 weeks of class are at a disadvantage here. Even so, many of these answers are easy to guess – if you know more than an MBA.
Part 2 of the Final Exam
1. True or false? The Five to One rule posits that to be successful, long-lasting relationships must have five times as many positive as negative interactions.
2. True or false? The more frequent the punishment, the greater the impact.
3. True or false? Gulliver’s Travels is an example of the relative nature of things.
4. True or false? When faced with a difficult question, we often answer a simpler question.
5. True or false? We are prone to underestimate what we know and overestimate the role of chance.
6. True or false? The Experiencing Self and the Thinking Self do not have the same interests.
7. True or false? When people believe a conclusion is true, they are likely to believe arguments that appear to support it, even when those arguments are unsound.
8. True or false? Your thinking is not influenced by the immediately preceding context.
9. True or false? Invention is mostly evolution.
10. True or false? Multi-tasking ensures no one task gets all your attention.
Score yourself here
Give yourself extra credit if you know why the answer is true or false.
1. True or false? The Five to One rule posits that to be successful, long-lasting relationships must have five times as many positive than negative interactions. True. Long-lasting is the key word. For every negative interaction, stable and happy marriages have five or more positive interactions. It is good to know that this holds true for business relationships, too.
2. True or false? The more frequent the punishment, the greater the impact. False. Punishment ceases to be effective more quickly than most people can imagine. The fact is that punishment is only effective when applied swiftly and consistently.
3. True or false? Gulliver’s Travels is an example of the relative nature of things. In the story, Gulliver is the same size wherever he goes. To tiny Lilliputians, he is a giant. To the 60 foot tall Brobdingnagians, he is the size of a house pet. Gulliver’s absolute size never changes, just the perceptions of his size relative to those doing the judging. True.
4. True or false? When faced with a difficult question, we often answer a simpler question. True, and we usually do it without even noticing. Heuristics are easy shortcuts lazy thinkers take to produce superficial answers.
5. True or false? We are prone to underestimate what we know and overestimate the role of chance. Both statements are false because we overestimate what we know (human nature) and underestimate the role of chance (our limited understanding of such things).
6. True or false? The Experiencing Self and the Thinking Self do not have the same interests. True. The experiencing self uses fast, emotional and unconscious thinking. The remembering self uses slow, rational and conscious thinking.
7. True or false? When people believe a conclusion is true, they are likely to believe arguments that appear to support it, even when those arguments are unsound. True. System 1 thinking is not prone to doubt. People who take positions rarely seek contradictory opinions and find support even in ambiguity and nonsense.
8. True or false? Your thinking is not influenced by the immediately preceding context. False. And you need not go to grad school to know that circumstances and surroundings have a profound influence on our thinking.
9. True or false? Invention is mostly evolution. Most inventions did not pop up out of the blue. Hundreds of people experimented with early automobiles, airplanes and electricity. Thomas Edison tried thousands of light bulb filaments before finding one that worked. True.
10. True or false? Multi-tasking ensures no one task gets all your attention. True. Another easy one because you only have 100% of attention to give and when you start task splitting and task switching, everything suffers – attention, concentration, and competence – and you make more errors.
Score both exams
Add your scores for the 10 multiple choice questions from last week and this week’s 10 true-false questions. Using the grading scale mandated by the University of the West Indies, if you got 10 or more right out of 20, you pass and if you got 14 or more right out of 20, you passed with honors.
If those sound like low bars to you, they did to me, too
At Indiana and Miami, 50% was failing and honors were earned only if you scored 90% or higher. Casual observers will likely conclude the grading system in the Caribbean is less rigorous than in more developed countries. Some believe that the lack of rigor ensured more paying customers (students) graduated.
I wrote my final exams for students at Indiana University and the University of Miami near the end of the course, when I was able to tailor the exam to what we talked about in class. The UWI Graduate School of Business made professors write and submit their final exams before the first day of class. This was bureaucratic nonsense and an excellent example of how many things are done in the West Indies. With a full semester of classroom history behind me, I would have written a better exam.
If you can’t find a way to use what you’ve learned, what’s the point of learning it?
The third part of the exam was a single essay question asking how students intended to use what they learned in this class in their business lives. The question was designed to allow students to identify what they felt was important and show how they would apply what they learned. Many of the students struggled with writing an essay, but most were able to think of an example or two. Anticipating this, I structured the value of each of the three sections of the final exam so that the guinea pigs who did well on any two of the three sections would receive a passing grade.
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