Saturday, August 2, 2008

Shooting the moon in academia

Some background: the goal in the card game "hearts" is to avoid tricks with hearts and the queen of spades. Each of these cards counts as a point, and you win by having as few points as possible. However, there is a rule that if you get all of the hearts and the queen of spades, you get zero points and everybody else gets 26. This rule is called "shooting the moon."

Sometimes, when you take a test and do very badly, you are worried that you might get every question wrong. But then again, this is fairly impressive! You have to know something about the material to get every problem wrong.

My proposal is that there should be a way to "shoot the moon" on tests, where you answer every question incorrectly. You would get a 150% (instead of a max 100%), and maybe everybody else in the class who would otherwise get an A would get -1% from their score. If multiple people "shot the moon", these negative percentage points would not sum.

Any takers? It would certainly bring out the gambler in each of us, because if you were to get just one problem right, it would mean a seriously failing grade.