Extra Credit: Bible Knowledge

Trina has a story about a student at Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, Florida who had the following bonus question on a final exam:

Bonus Question 02 — What Book in the Bible describes the End Times (i.e. The Seven Seals, Tribulation, Armageddon, etc.)?

A. Revelations
B. Joshua
C. Galatians
D. Leviticus
E. Genesus [sic]
F. Exodus
G. Matthew

This was for an Introduction to Computer Applications for Business course.

WTF?

Trina says this about the extra credit:

Although this was a bonus question, it provides an unfair disadvantage to those students who are not of a religion where they might have been exposed to the Bible or to those who are not religious at all. Besides, what place does a religious question have in a class that has absolutely nothing to do with religion? Granted it was an extra credit question, but that really isn’t the point.

Is there any course of action from here? Is it even worth pursuing?

I would think at least an email to the professor’s supervisor is in order.

  • Troll

    WTF, indeed.

  • http://leann28.wordpress.com LeAnn

    That is ridiculous on any exam other than in a religion course!

  • http://yrif.org Joel

    Whoever wrote the test didn’t even get the answer right. The book’s called Revelation.

  • http://www.cognitivedissident.org cognitive dissident

    I’ll second the WTF, and add [EDIT: as already noted by the quicker-fingered Joel] that HE MESSED UP THE ANSWER!

    The book’s name is SINGULAR, not plural. (I’m sure all of us atheists knew that, right?)

  • http://superstitionfree.blogspot.com/ Robert Madewell

    Is Indian River State College a christian college?

  • http://ozatheist.wordpress.com/ OzAtheist

    You have to be kidding me?

    The least that should be done is a letter to the supervisor and head of the school.

    The student is correct in pointing out that it disadvantages not just non-believers but others who aren’t exposed to the Christian Bible.

  • ungullible

    If students are in any way graded on a curve in that class, then there is really no such thing as “extra credit”, and an unfair advantage to Christians would be obvious.

  • zoo

    No Robert, it’s not. It’s what used to be called a community college (a lot of them are dropping that now as they have started offering some four-year degrees), part of Florida’s state university system.

    In other words, this question is -completely- inappropriate outside of a class it actually pertains to. Appropriate (and actually educational!) would be taking concepts the students studied and asking them to go a logical step further.

  • Jeff Satterley

    I’m teaching a very similar class at Northeastern this summer (my first teaching gig). Guess I’ll have to rewrite my exams ;-). Seriously, what is up with Florida lately?

  • http://notapottedplant.blogspot.com/ Transplanted Lawyer

    Unacceptable. This is a violation of about a half dozen Federal laws and I can only guess how many state laws in Florida. It is also probably a violation of the college’s internal policies. The student in this case needs to complain to the college’s EEO office.

    Frankly, I consider this a serious act of discrimination. It’s one thing to socially exclude someone because they are of a different religious belief (or lack thereof) but it’s something else entirely to do something like this, which has an actual effect on someone’s grades, and places some people at an advantage to others based on religion. If I were admitted in Florida, I’d take this case on a contingency, and I don’t take contingency cases often.

    From a “making things better” rather than “making lawyers richer” standpoint, I encourage the student to make a formal complaint as soon as possible, because the effectiveness of a grievance is enhanced when the incident is fresh in everyone’s minds.

  • Jeff Satterley

    Whoever wrote the test didn’t even get the answer right. The book’s called Revelation.

    I noticed that too. It surprises me how much more atheists seem to know about the Bible than most Christians.

  • http://ichthyologistbright.blogspot.com ChimaeraLaurie

    I had “Name the Movie” as an extra credit question in a limnology lab, where the TA sang the flying monkey’s theme from The Wizard of Oz.

  • Matto the Hun

    I noticed a few folks left comments on the article. Comments to the effect of “It’s only extra credit” or “people should have knowledge of the world around them”

    If the class was a social sciences class, world religions, world philosophy, etc. that kind of extra credit may be plausible.

    But don’t try and pass this BS as an excuse for a class completely unrelated to the question.

    If someone else gets a better score on their test because the answered the bonus question and I didn’t, how the hell is that right.

    If my raw score (sans Bonus) shows I have more knowledge the the actual subject we are studying, how is it right that somebody can up their score to be equal or greater than mine by answering some completely unrelated BS questions.

    How well would that question have gone over if it was about Islam. We wouldn’t be referencing some obscure article in The Examiner that most of the country won’t read. It would be on your 6 o’clock news. Quite possibly with some right-wing politician decrying that Islam is being pushed on our nations children and by we we are a Christian nation blah blah blah.

    Then you’ll probably get the revival of email forwards of how Barack HUSEIN Obama is turning us all into Muslims… and that next we’ll be forced to speak Mexican unless we become an officially English only Christian nation!

    Oh but it’s okay to push Christian fantasy nonsense on people. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    Finally, what crap college professor is this? Regardless of possible religious biases. The first bonus Q was what is the professor’s last name.

    Really?

    What is this, high school? If I was shelling out money for that class I’d feel like I would be better off shoving that money up my ass and setting it on fire. What a waste.

  • http://thinkingforfree.blogspot.com/ Eamon Knight

    Whoever wrote the test didn’t even get the answer right. The book’s called Revelation.

    Pfft. Give the book its traditional name: The Apocalypse of Saint John.

    ;-)

  • TC

    In terms of official university procedure, the best thing to do is probably to ask the instructor about it first.

    A sort of, “Hey, did you realize this isn’t quite right?” type of question would be best. If I had to guess, this instructor probably never considered that the question might be offensive. To the instructor, it could have been a common knowledge question along the lines of who won the local sports game last week.

    However, this is an opportunity. Write a well-thought out op-ed for the student newspaper. Use the extra-credit question as a common example of the soft bigotry that the religious (often unintentionally) exhibit.

    Make it a “see what we have to put up with?” sort of piece. It’s probably best to avoid naming names, in the paper, but the instructor will know it was his test item.

    Basically, there’s an opportunity for atheist outreach if the tone of the debate isn’t shrill and off-putting from the get-go. See if you can start a dialog on your campus about hidden intolerance toward the non-religious and/or non-christian.

  • SarahH

    It just seems utterly bizarre to me. I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it on a public level, because it would just turn into one of those “Oh, those whiny atheists are being thin-skinned again” things, but a private “WTF?” inquiry seems appropriate, maybe by reporting the odd incident to the head of that department or human services or something.

  • Drew

    If its a public university she definitely has grounds to take action.

  • Richard Wade

    The problem is not that the question is offensive. That is irrelevant. The problem is that it is inappropriate to give an advantage on a grade test to anyone in class for having any knowledge that is not part of the class curriculum. It may or may not offend atheists because we’re so sick of religious bullshit seeping into everything, but that is beside the point. This would be inappropriate if the extra credit question was,
    “What is orange zest?”
    “Which bloom earlier, dahlias or azaleas?”
    “Which shrinks more, cotton or linen?”
    “What character did Tina Louise play in ‘Gilligan’s Island’?”
    “In auto mechanics, what is meant by a ‘hemi’?”

    None of these questions are likely to be offensive to some particular group, but they could give an unfair advantage over others who lack the particular background that might give them the answer, background that has nothing to do with the class.

    The teacher is out of line and deserves to be reprimanded for it.

  • Autumnal Harvest

    Not that it matters, but I’d also point out that an extra credit question is logically no different than any other question. If you have 11 questions on a test, each worth 10 points, and you declare that your score will be taken as a fraction of 100 points total, what difference does it make which questions you call the “extra credit” question? All 11 questions are still equally important in determining your grade. I’ve never understood why so many teachers and students regard extra credit questions as some fundamentally different category.

  • postsimian

    ratemyprofessor.com. I’m just sayin’. ¬_¬

  • Indigo

    Maybe this is just my suspicious atheist mind at work, but I think it’s a subtle conversion ploy. I know that I at least am the kind of person who would go and look that up afterwards if I didn’t know it, or ask somebody, thus finding out more about the subject without the prof ever having to actually corner me and ask about my relationship with Christ. (“Well, it was going good for a while but now it’s kind of on the rocks…”)

  • Claudia

    The question is totally inappropriate and also entirely worthless considering the subject.

    However I’ll bet you that a “self-aware” atheist (active in secular groups, knows their war around RichardDawkins.net etc.) would have an advantage over regular folks. Biblical knowledge amongst most people is dismal wheras “active” atheists tend to have a rather higher level of biblical knowledge from all that debunking we do on such a regular basis

  • http://hoverFrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    666 in binary is 1010011010. However if you write is as it is pronounced it is 110 110 110. In hexadecimal 666 is 29A or 6 6 6 if written as pronounced.

    Alternatively

    Choice book = new Choice();
    book.addItem(“Revelations”);
    book.addItem(“Joshua”)
    book.addItem(“Galatians”);
    book.addItem(“Leviticus”);
    book.addItem(“Genesus [sic]“);
    book.addItem(“Exodus”);
    book.addItem(“Matthew”);

    Then use the getSelectedItem() method to find the selected choice.

    OR

    How about the question has no relevance to an Introduction to Computer Applications for Business course. Much like religion itself has no place in computing or in business unless you’re selling Jesus paraphernalia and cons over the web or through an human-computer interface.

    Does that count as extra credit for a computing related course?

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    In the classic movie Spinal Tap the guitar amps went up to 11 (instead of just 10). That’s kind of like extra credit. Same range, just relabeled.

  • mikespeir

    (sigh) I was coming on to point out that the correct answer isn’t listed. But, alas, at least a couple of responders above beat me to it. The instructor needs to stick to computers.

  • http://jedipunk.newsvine.com jedipunk

    All 11 questions are still equally important in determining your grade. I’ve never understood why so many teachers and students regard extra credit questions as some fundamentally different category.

    Because the EC question is typically much harder or may require an answer to something only briefly covered in class.

  • Cindy

    If you get the Extra Credit question wrong, it doesn’t negatively affect your grade, unlike the rest of the answers.

  • jemand

    But Cindy, if you get any ONE question wrong, it won’t affect your grade. Nothing special about the particular problem.

  • Derek

    HoverFrog,

    I feel compelled to point out that 666 octal (438 decimal) converts directly to 110 110 110 in binary.

  • Bart Mitchell

    Its ironic, but the group of people most likely to know the answer are atheists.

    As for pursuing it? Meh. There are bigger fish to fry. The public humiliation should be enough.

  • AJ

    I’d say this is about 1% a problem and 99% people grossly overreacting.

  • Larry Huffman

    AJ…I do not think people are over reacting. I think this is exactly the kind of thing that should be stopped.

    And Richard Wade is right…this is not offensive. We need to all lay off of the offensive claims…we all should have thicker skins that that.

    It is just not right. One does not have to be offended for this to be wrong. It provides an unfair advantage for those who know the bible over those who do not. And it is a perfect example of how the religious want to assert themselves where they have no right or business doing so.

    It is not an over reaction to want to correct something that is wrong.

  • Vincent

    It’s wrong.
    It’s unfair.
    and last of all, it’s a violation of the law.
    Clearly there is possible recourse. Problem is, by the time anything gets through the courts she won’t be a student anymore. I think talking to the dean is as much as is needed.

    Jeff,
    Say hi to Steve McKnight for me!

  • JB

    Since this is Bonus Question 02, did anyone else wonder what Bonus Question 01 might have been?
    Apparently the first of the two bonus questions asked the instructor’s last name.

  • Ramon Caballero

    I have to disagree with most of you, I was a college teacher not so long ago and I can see this question just as normal as all others.
    A bonus question can have restrictions like “Only valid if original grade <= than 8″,
    I can put the question as hard as I want to help the people that pay attention in class (it could be based in a story I said in class, not related to the class itself) or it could be really easy to help everybody.
    Of course I am atheist, but one of my questions could be “Who was the Real God of War for the Greeks?” (Mars not Kratos) and maybe only 30% knows it.
    We want freedom of religion or the lack of it, and now we want people to stop talking?
    It is not the same if the POTUS say it, it is not the same if the coin is imprinted with it….but c’mon! a teacher in a college?
    Are we going to forbid the teaching of History of the Crusades? (It has not 1 but 2 gods in the story)
    Choose wisely your battles….this is not one of them (IMNSHO)
    And btw my kids and me just saw “Fly me to the Moon” a cartoon in DVD, and in the extras there was a trivia….How old is the earth?, no option had 6,000 years, are the fundies Christians going to complain? hehehehe
    -Ramon Caballero

  • AnonyMouse

    What the hey? “Genesus”? “The Book of Revelations”? Neither of these even APPEAR in the Bible. Phailboat.

    (Li’l FYI memo, which I think a lot of people miss: it’s the book of “Revelation”. No S.)

    Seriously, though, that is a completely inappropriate place to put such a question. Somebody ought to have his/her butt reported.

  • Polly

    I’d have to know more about the teacher and the test.

    For some, this would be the equivalent of trivia. Some fun fact that might lighten the mood and probably not be big enough to change a grade one way or the other?

    Or, maybe it’s something that came up in a lecture. I can think of a connection between Revelation and computer chips – it was practically the basis for a Canadian religious program.

    For all we know he’s not even a believer.

  • http://moralmajorityvsvocalminority.blogspot.com Sarah

    The email to the professor’s boss could also point out that the there is no right answer. The correct answer is “Revelation” not “Revelations”. So, not only is the bozo trying to push religion he can’t even get his own book of fairy tales right!

  • http://arkonbey.blogspot.com arkonbey

    @Ramon: I can’t resist. Mars was the Roman god of war, Ares was the Greek.

  • Ramon Caballero

    @arkonbey:
    Damn right! That cartoon DVD trivia really made an impression in me, right? haha.
    I can tell you that it was on purpose (because I really really knew it, I love mythology)…but I don’t lie, damn these godless morals are really tough!

  • sc0tt

    On Cash Cab this morning there was a Red Light Challenge for naming the first five books of the OT – I think the passengers (mainstream cultural Americans) only got two of them. Red Light Challenges are like extra credit too – no penalty for a wrong answer.

  • benjdm

    Red Light Challenge for naming the first five books of the OT

    I think I can get at least 3…Genesis, Deuteronomy, Exodus…Kings and Judges? Checking…nope, Leviticus and Numbers. Oh, well.

  • Autumnal Harvest

    Autumnal Harvest:

    If you have 11 questions on a test, each worth 10 points, and you declare that your score will be taken as a fraction of 100 points total, what difference does it make which questions you call the “extra credit” question?

    Cindy:

    If you get the Extra Credit question wrong, it doesn’t negatively affect your grade, unlike the rest of the answers.

    Jedipunk:

    Because the EC question is typically much harder or may require an answer to something only briefly covered in class.

    Cindy, Jedipunk, in essence, what you’re saying is that you feel like extra credit questions are somehow different than other questions. What I’m saying is that there’s no logical reason for this. Look at it this way. What’s the difference between these two tests?

    Test #1
    ——-
    [Questions 1-29, totaling 660 points]

    Question 30. Name three keywords in C++ (6 points)

    Extra credit: Question 31: Name the book of the Bible with the story of Bel and the Dragon. (6 points)

    Test #2
    ——-
    [Questions 1-29, same as in Test #1, totaling 660 points]

    Question 30. Name the book of the Bible with the story of Bel and the Dragon (6 points)

    Extra credit: Question 31: Name three keywords in C++ (6 points)

    These two tests are exactly the same in every way that makes a difference to your grade. Why do some people regard the Bible question as a fun free question in Test #1, but a possible drag on your grade if you get it wrong in Test #2?

    When I was a professor, I found that a fair number of students wouldn’t bother answering extra credit questions because “they didn’t have to.” (Even if the questions were no harder than questions that they did in the main body of the test, and even when they had plenty of extra time.) I always found this completely mystifying.


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