strathspey Archive: Examination debriefing

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Examination debriefing

Message 25938 · Oberdan Otto · 10 May 2001 02:28:09 · Top

Hi,

Since the archive is not presently available, I must rely on your memories.

I recall there being a very brief thread within the last few months
on the subject of eliminating debriefings by examiners following the
teaching part of the exam. At the most recent meeting of teachers of
our local group, it was reported that examiners were being instructed
by a body outside of the examinations committee and the circle of
examiners (the Executive Council?) to eliminate that aspect of the
exam. Understandably, many of those present were rather upset by that
prospect, since they viewed the debriefing as a valuable part of the
examination. The information came to us verbally, so we really aren't
sure about particulars.

I am seeking information on the subject: Who is telling who, what?
Why was the action deemed necessary? When is this supposed to be
effective? If our understanding is substantively correct, what can be
done to restore this part of the exams?

Thanks, Oberdan.
184 Estaban Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010-1611 USA
Voice: (805) 389-0063, FAX: (805) 484-2775, email: ootto@ootto.com

Examination debriefing

Message 25942 · Susi Mayr · 10 May 2001 11:45:36 · Top

From the Minutes of the Meeting of the Examinations Committee on
Saturday 13 January 2001:

"Review of verbal feedback. It was unanimously agreed to discontinue
with this practice and concentrate on improving feedback through the
tutor and result sheet. This proposal will now be taken to the Executive
Council in May and would be effective immediately if ratified."

Note that the next Executive Council meeting is on 12 May 2001.

Susi

Susi Mayr
Vienna (Austria)
susi@redrose.co.at

Oberdan Otto wrote:
>
> Hi,
>
> Since the archive is not presently available, I must rely on your
memories.
>
> I recall there being a very brief thread within the last few months
> on the subject of eliminating debriefings by examiners following the
> teaching part of the exam. At the most recent meeting of teachers of
> our local group, it was reported that examiners were being instructed
> by a body outside of the examinations committee and the circle of
> examiners (the Executive Council?) to eliminate that aspect of the
> exam. Understandably, many of those present were rather upset by that
> prospect, since they viewed the debriefing as a valuable part of the
> examination. The information came to us verbally, so we really aren't
> sure about particulars.
>
> I am seeking information on the subject: Who is telling who, what?
> Why was the action deemed necessary? When is this supposed to be
> effective? If our understanding is substantively correct, what can be
> done to restore this part of the exams?
>
> Thanks, Oberdan.
> 184 Estaban Drive, Camarillo, CA 93010-1611 USA
> Voice: (805) 389-0063, FAX: (805) 484-2775, email: ootto@ootto.com

Examination debriefing

Message 25943 · Melbourne Briscoe · 10 May 2001 13:26:46 · Top

> From the Minutes of the Meeting of the Examinations Committee on
>Saturday 13 January 2001:
>
>"Review of verbal feedback. It was unanimously agreed to discontinue
>with this practice and concentrate on improving feedback through the
>tutor and result sheet. This proposal will now be taken to the Executive
>Council in May and would be effective immediately if ratified."
>
>Note that the next Executive Council meeting is on 12 May 2001.
>
>Susi Mayr
>Vienna (Austria)
>susi@redrose.co.at

I've talked to several examiners about this, and they do not seem to be in
favor of it. These few minutes with official representatives of the
Society may be the only personal contact many of us outside of Scotland may
ever have with the Society, and it is particularly important for the new
teachers to feel this contact and bond. Yes, there may be difficulties with
the face-to-face feedback, but they should be put in the context of the
overwhelming importance of that contact. The written result sheet is a work
in progress, will likely get better and should be maintained, but does not
replace that feeling that comes from the verbal few minutes: the Society is
there and is people and wants to see things progress.

I wonder -- if the Executive Committee were to agree with the Examinations
Committee's recommendation -- whether the examiners themselves could still
speak with the candidates if they wished to. That is, it seems unlikely
the Exec would say "you must not speak to candidates!" So perhaps the worst
that would happen is the *requirement* for verbal, face-to-face feedback
would go away, but in reality the examiners would do it anyway, and that
essential contact would be maintained.

- Mel
Virginia, USA

Examination debriefing

Message 25945 · Miriam L. Mueller · 10 May 2001 17:17:56 · Top

I would be sorry to see the examiner's debriefing of candidates
eliminated. In my one (unsuccessful) attempt at the prelim exam, the
debriefing I received was one of the most inspiring and informative
educational sessions I have ever had. The examiner used the debriefing to
teach me something about how to teach. Much of the value of her feedback
was precisely that she used different a different approach and
terminology than my tutor had, and could be very specific about what had
just been done. And she explained her points until it was clear that I
had understood. No written evaluation could do that.

I would hate to see the closing down of any teaching technique. Perhaps
the examiners would feel more comfortable giving direct feedback if they
thought of it as a teaching opportunity.
Miriam Mueller
San Francisco

Examination debriefing

Message 25946 · John P. McClure · 10 May 2001 18:05:14 · Top

We heard about this from one of our members who attended the Pearl Holmberg
Workshop (glowing review, by the way). The discussion there, as reported,
supports Mel's experience that this proposal (to do away with verbal
debriefing) is _not_ unanimously supported by examiners, the wording of
the committee minutes notwithstanding. The rationale for the proposal,
again as reported, is that it keeps volunteers (the dancers required to
support the examination) standing around. We have instructed our delegate
to RSCDS Executive to oppose the proposal.

Peter McClure
Winnipeg, MB

Examination debriefing

Message 25947 · Marjorie McLaughlin · 10 May 2001 18:27:17 · Top

Given the short time before the Executive Committee meeting which will
consider this proposal from the Examinations Committee, is it possible to
forward well thought out comments such as Mimi's and Mel's to a delegate? I
am not sure if Bruce Frazier, Convenor of the Examinations Committee, has
email but it would be unfortunate if these thoughts were not considered
before a vote is taken.

I agree that eliminating the debriefing would be a major disservice to the
candidates (successful and unsuccessful) who have put in many hours of
effort to prepare for the examination. It is, indeed, one of the few direct
points of contact that many dancers/teachers have with the Society;
eliminating the debriefing would move the organization one more step away
from its constituents.

One point that disturbs me is the comment that one reason for the proposal
is that examiners in Britain often have to leave the venue right after the
exam is completed and therefore don't have time for the debriefing. Are we
about to make a significant change for the convenience of the examiners at
the expense of the candidates? Surely not?

Marjorie McLaughlin
San Diego, CA

----- Original Message -----
From: "Miriam L. Mueller" <mimimueller@juno.com>
To: <strathspey@strathspey.org>
Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2001 8:17 AM
Subject: Re: Examination debriefing

> I would be sorry to see the examiner's debriefing of candidates
> eliminated. In my one (unsuccessful) attempt at the prelim exam, the
> debriefing I received was one of the most inspiring and informative
> educational sessions I have ever had. The examiner used the debriefing to
> teach me something about how to teach. Much of the value of her feedback
> was precisely that she used different a different approach and
> terminology than my tutor had, and could be very specific about what had
> just been done. And she explained her points until it was clear that I
> had understood. No written evaluation could do that.
>
> I would hate to see the closing down of any teaching technique. Perhaps
> the examiners would feel more comfortable giving direct feedback if they
> thought of it as a teaching opportunity.
> Miriam Mueller
> San Francisco
>

I've talked to several examiners about this, and they do not seem to be in
favor of it. These few minutes with official representatives of the
Society may be the only personal contact many of us outside of Scotland may
ever have with the Society, and it is particularly important for the new
teachers to feel this contact and bond. Yes, there may be difficulties with
the face-to-face feedback, but they should be put in the context of the
overwhelming importance of that contact. The written result sheet is a work
in progress, will likely get better and should be maintained, but does not
replace that feeling that comes from the verbal few minutes: the Society is
there and is people and wants to see things progress.

I wonder -- if the Executive Committee were to agree with the Examinations
Committee's recommendation -- whether the examiners themselves could still
speak with the candidates if they wished to. That is, it seems unlikely
the Exec would say "you must not speak to candidates!" So perhaps the worst
that would happen is the *requirement* for verbal, face-to-face feedback
would go away, but in reality the examiners would do it anyway, and that
essential contact would be maintained.

- Mel
Virginia, USA

Examination debriefing

Message 25948 · Marilynn Knight · 10 May 2001 19:01:40 · Top

Why could the 'dancers standing around' not be excused to relax outside in
the hall? Which they probably still consider 'standing around'? It's just
an integral part of 'stooging'?

-----Original Message-----
From: John P. McClure [mailto:joptmc@cc.UManitoba.CA]
Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2001 12:05 PM
To: strathspey@strathspey.org
Subject: Re: Examination debriefing

We heard about this from one of our members who attended the Pearl Holmberg
Workshop (glowing review, by the way). The discussion there, as reported,
supports Mel's experience that this proposal (to do away with verbal
debriefing) is _not_ unanimously supported by examiners, the wording of
the committee minutes notwithstanding. The rationale for the proposal,
again as reported, is that it keeps volunteers (the dancers required to
support the examination) standing around. We have instructed our delegate
to RSCDS Executive to oppose the proposal.

Peter McClure
Winnipeg, MB

Examination debriefing

Message 25949 · John K. Andrews · 10 May 2001 19:02:59 · Top

In a letter which echos both Mel's and Miriam's thoughts, the Northern
Virginia Branch has instructed its delegate to the RSCDS Executive
Committee to oppose the proposal.

Jay Andrews
Alexandria, VA, USA

At 09:27 AM 5/10/2001 -0700, you wrote:
>Given the short time before the Executive Committee meeting which will
>consider this proposal from the Examinations Committee, is it possible to
>forward well thought out comments such as Mimi's and Mel's to a delegate?
I
>am not sure if Bruce Frazier, Convenor of the Examinations Committee, has
>email but it would be unfortunate if these thoughts were not considered
>before a vote is taken.
>
>I agree that eliminating the debriefing would be a major disservice to the
>candidates (successful and unsuccessful) who have put in many hours of
>effort to prepare for the examination. It is, indeed, one of the few direct
>points of contact that many dancers/teachers have with the Society;
>eliminating the debriefing would move the organization one more step away
>from its constituents.
>
>One point that disturbs me is the comment that one reason for the proposal
>is that examiners in Britain often have to leave the venue right after the
>exam is completed and therefore don't have time for the debriefing. Are we
>about to make a significant change for the convenience of the examiners at
>the expense of the candidates? Surely not?
>
>Marjorie McLaughlin
>San Diego, CA
>
>
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Miriam L. Mueller" <mimimueller@juno.com>
>To: <strathspey@strathspey.org>
>Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2001 8:17 AM
>Subject: Re: Examination debriefing
>
>
>> I would be sorry to see the examiner's debriefing of candidates
>> eliminated. In my one (unsuccessful) attempt at the prelim exam, the
>> debriefing I received was one of the most inspiring and informative
>> educational sessions I have ever had. The examiner used the debriefing to
>> teach me something about how to teach. Much of the value of her feedback
>> was precisely that she used different a different approach and
>> terminology than my tutor had, and could be very specific about what had
>> just been done. And she explained her points until it was clear that I
>> had understood. No written evaluation could do that.
>>
>> I would hate to see the closing down of any teaching technique. Perhaps
>> the examiners would feel more comfortable giving direct feedback if they
>> thought of it as a teaching opportunity.
>> Miriam Mueller
>> San Francisco
>>
>
>
>I've talked to several examiners about this, and they do not seem to be in
>favor of it. These few minutes with official representatives of the
>Society may be the only personal contact many of us outside of Scotland may
>ever have with the Society, and it is particularly important for the new
>teachers to feel this contact and bond. Yes, there may be difficulties with
>the face-to-face feedback, but they should be put in the context of the
>overwhelming importance of that contact. The written result sheet is a work
>in progress, will likely get better and should be maintained, but does not
>replace that feeling that comes from the verbal few minutes: the Society is
>there and is people and wants to see things progress.
>
>I wonder -- if the Executive Committee were to agree with the Examinations
>Committee's recommendation -- whether the examiners themselves could still

>speak with the candidates if they wished to. That is, it seems unlikely
>the Exec would say "you must not speak to candidates!" So perhaps the worst
>that would happen is the *requirement* for verbal, face-to-face feedback
>would go away, but in reality the examiners would do it anyway, and that
>essential contact would be maintained.
>
>- Mel
>Virginia, USA
>

Examination debriefing

Message 25950 · adriana linden · 10 May 2001 19:11:56 · Top

Fully agree with the comments that others have made... it is likely the only
direct contact most candidates will have with the Society... and we should
be
fostering more of a feeling of community, for the future good of the
Society.

The additional problem with feed back through the tutor is that the
Candidate
has already had this feedback (hopefully) throughout the course, and any
comments that the examiner would pass on through the tutor would be filtered
through the POV of the tutor. And with this armslength feedback, coupled
with
the result sheet... means that there is NO dialogue with the examiner and
the
candidate at all... a tremendous loss for the candidate, and leaves room for
much dissatifaction and miscommunication. The tutor, being human, sometimes
has
a vested interest in relaying information in a certain way to preserve their
own POV...not all tutor-candidate relationships are made in heaven.

There is also the factor that the examiner is an 'outsider' to the
candidates...words from an 'external' expert are preceived differently than
the
words of the tutor, which would be understood to be second-hand opinions.
If,
for example, the candidate has (likely) failed, it is putting a lot of
pressure
on the tutor to relay an unfavourable critique to the candidate, and, as we
know, some take these comments negatively, so cordial relations between the
tutor and candidate may be strained... Folks take it awfully personally when
they fail, and it is much better that the tutor is kept out of the loop of
passing on critique from the examiner. I also believe that this new setup
would decrease the number of individuals that would attempt to re-take their
examinations, and that would be a pity.

I see that the role of the tutor should be as a candidate-advocate in this
process... and the examiner is an 'outside' judge!

Cheers,
Adriana Linden
Montreal QC Canada

--- Susi Mayr <susi@redrose.co.at> wrote:
> From the Minutes of the Meeting of the Examinations Committee on
> Saturday 13 January 2001:
>
> "Review of verbal feedback. It was unanimously agreed to discontinue
> with this practice and concentrate on improving feedback through the
> tutor and result sheet. This proposal will now be taken to the Executive
> Council in May and would be effective immediately if ratified."
>
> Note that the next Executive Council meeting is on 12 May 2001.
>
> Susi
>
> Susi Mayr
> Vienna (Austria)
> susi@redrose.co.at
>

_______________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Get your free @yahoo.ca address at http://mail.yahoo.ca

Examination debriefing

Message 25952 · Rebecca Sager · 10 May 2001 23:28:48 · Top

When I took my Prelim at TAC Summer School in 1998, I was 15th of 17
candidates and it was about 5:30. There were still two sets of wonderful
stooges, for whose patience and stamina I'm eternally grateful - who
wants to do pas de basque practice and the poussette that late in the
day? My ten minute debriefing with Bruce Frazier was a really valuable
experience, I'd hate to see these face-to-face evaluations discontinued.
Our AGM was last night, don't know if I can get a consensus from "the
Branch", but will drop a personal note to our Exec.representative.

Becky

Becky Sager,
Marietta GA USA

On Thu, 10 May 2001 19:54:25 +0200 Anselm Lingnau <anselm@strathspey.org>
writes:
> When I took my certificate exam last summer,
> each
> time two of the candidates taught their dances one after the other,
> which took half an hour each, then one of the examiners talked to
> one of
> the candidates and the other examiner to the other, for a few
> minutes at
> most (certainly not more than ten minutes).
>
> Wouldn't the `stooges' have earned themselves a few minutes' rest
> after
> an hour's worth of step practice, formation practice and so on?
> Also,
> stooges do get swapped in and out of the room between the double
> practice lessons, so in practice (at least in St. Andrews) any
> stooges
> that feel terminally bored can probably slink away with no one the
> wiser. Didn't seem to be a big problem in our case -- I was the
> last
> candidate of twelve to go in for the exam and even at five in the
> afternoon there didn't appear to be a shortage of volunteers, even
> though the exam schedule had slipped enough so that the prospective
> stooges (not to mention candidates) had to wait around for
> considerably
> more than a few minutes before they could actually go in and do
> their
> thing.
>
> Anselm
> --
> Anselm Lingnau ..........................................
> anselm@strathspey.org
> Law of Cat Thermodynamics: Heat flows from a warmer to a cooler
> body, except
> in the case of a cat, in which case all heat flows to the cat.
>
>

Examination debriefing

Message 25953 · mlbrown · 10 May 2001 23:40:53 · Top

Oberdan wrote:
> If our understanding is substantively correct, what can be
> done to restore this part of the exams?

I thought that when we discussed this a couple of years ago that he was one
of the people who had a story about the de-briefing causing people to stop
dancing / teaching?

(As the archive doesn't want to work for me I can't check.)

Anyway at the time there seemed to be considerable feeling that the feedback
sessions were causing more harm than good.

I will let people know the result of the discussion at the Exec on Saturday,
where maybe we will get more of an explanation than that expressed in the
minutes.

Malcolm

Malcolm & Helen Brown
Tir-Nan-Og
York (UK)

Examination debriefing

Message 25955 · Noel Chavez · 11 May 2001 00:18:23 · Top

Echoing Peter's comment re the discussion at the recent Pearl Holmberg
Workshop. There were two examiners present, and many teachers expressed
their opinions about the verbal debriefing. My sense was that virtually
everyone who spoke believed this was an extremely valuable aspect of the
examination process. I understood that Elma McCausland was planning to
report this to the Executive Council, and she urged those present to
forward their views to the Council.

From a personal perspective, I too found the feedback very helpful, and
the session helped me come to a closure for the course and the exam. I
took two pages of notes which I later reviewed with my tutor. The
combination of the feedback, my synthesis of the notes and reviewing my
notes with the tutor have helped guide my learning process as a
teacher. There were a couple of elements in the debriefing which also
appeared on the form I later received. Discussing the comments with the
tutor helped my understanding of the suggestions. In fact, with only the
written feedback I wouldn't have understood at all what the suggestion
actually meant. (The differences were language and cultural between the UK
and North America.)

Noel Chavez
Chicago

At 11:05 AM 5/10/01 -0500, you wrote:
>We heard about this from one of our members who attended the Pearl Holmberg
>Workshop (glowing review, by the way). The discussion there, as reported,
>supports Mel's experience that this proposal (to do away with verbal
>debriefing) is _not_ unanimously supported by examiners, the wording of
>the committee minutes notwithstanding. The rationale for the proposal,
>again as reported, is that it keeps volunteers (the dancers required to
>support the examination) standing around. We have instructed our delegate
>to RSCDS Executive to oppose the proposal.
>
>Peter McClure
>Winnipeg, MB

Examination debriefing

Message 25956 · John P. McClure · 10 May 2001 23:23:17 · Top

Re Anselm's description of the management of volunteers at St Andrews, much
the same thing was done at TAC last summer, and it seemed to work quite
well.
The "stooge-masters" recruited people to come in shifts, so that nobody who
didn't want to needed to stay for a very long time. As far as I heard, the
stooges were willing supporters of the process. There's no doubt that they
were punishing days for the examiners, but again, any comment I heard from
candidates indicated that the examiners had been at pains to put them at
ease, and that the exams had been carried out in a positive manner,
including the interviews.

As others have pointed out, the value of these interviews, especially for
overseas candidates (or any others who may feel a bit remote from HQ) is
hard to overestimate, and we can only hope that the Executive will reject
this proposal.

Peter McClure
Winnipeg, MB

Examination debriefing

Message 25957 · cnordj · 11 May 2001 00:19:32 · Top

Los Angeles Branch has also instructed its delegate to the Executive Council
to vote against the Examination Committee's motion to discontinue briefings
of candidates. Translation: LA is for briefings.
Cheers, Carol Johnson

Examination debriefing

Message 25959 · Seonaid · 11 May 2001 01:21:36 · Top

While I can understand people's view that they would like a face-to-face
debriefing with the Examiner, I think this has become overrated.

I have never taken any RSCDS (or any SCD) exams, but I have taken around 30
highland / national exams under the UKA and SDTA. It is standard practice
in these exams for no feedback to be given at the time, but each candidate
receives a sheet with written comments on each dance.

I don't know about anyone else, but usually by the time I've finished the
exam (especially if it is something like a teaching exam, which is about 30
mins long) I just want to get out of that room, collapse in a heap and get a
drink (not necessarily in that order). If I did receive feedback then, I
would probably have forgotten it by the time I got home - especially as we
often sit up to 7 or 8 exams in the one day.

With the written sheet of paper, I can go back over what the examiner has
said, and think about how I dance and work out where I am going wrong
(sometimes with the help of my teacher).

I also find it interesting to look back on the sheets I was given years ago
and see how I've progressed (or which bits I still don't quite manage!)

(Just) MHO,

Seonaid

Seonaid Gent
Linlithgow, Scotland

-----

Express yourself @ another.com
http://another.com

Examination debriefing

Message 25960 · Lee Fuell · 11 May 2001 00:14:40 · Top

All,

Re:

Send reply to: strathspey@strathspey.org
From: "mlbrown" <mlbrown@supanet.com>
To: <strathspey@strathspey.org>
Subject: Re: Examination debriefing
Date sent: Thu, 10 May 2001 22:40:53 +0100

>
> Oberdan wrote:
> > If our understanding is substantively correct, what can be
> > done to restore this part of the exams?
>
> I thought that when we discussed this a couple of years ago that he was
one
> of the people who had a story about the de-briefing causing people to stop
> dancing / teaching?
>
> (As the archive doesn't want to work for me I can't check.)
>
> Anyway at the time there seemed to be considerable feeling that the
feedback
> sessions were causing more harm than good.

I've heard mixed reviews on the post-exam feedback. One prelim
friend thought it was a terrific experience; another who just passed
her full certificate felt like she was being verbally ripped to shreds.
Guess it just depends on the examiner. However, one can easily
see how horror stories about negative debriefs could deter folks
from entering the teacher certification process.

Related question: When one takes the driving test for a driver's
license (at least in the US), the examiner tells the candidate
immediately after the test if they passed or failed. The same is
true for a pilot's license. Why does the RSCDS have to make
candidates sweat it out for weeks (it's nerve-wracking just watching
them...) until they get the official notification from headquarters.
Why can't the examiners be empowered to tell the candidate their
result if not immediately, at least by the end of the day?

Lee


Donald Lee Fuell, Jr.
Beavercreek, Ohio
e-mail: fuell@mindspring.com

Examination debriefing

Message 25962 · Tim Harrison · 11 May 2001 01:34:03 · Top

Seonaid,

I'm glad to read that the highland / national exams give good written
comments. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case with my Prelim Exam. Verbally,
I received a few comments about what I did wrong (which were quite helpful)
and nothing about what I did right. The form I received was worthless. It
didn't identify anything well enough that I could have figured out what I
did wrong, without having received the verbal explanation.

I was shown the form received by a fellow examinee who didn't pass. It was
very discouraging, almost everything was marked as needing improvement. But,
there were no words to tell my friend exactly what was wrong. And nothing to
encourage him.

-- Tim Harrison
-- Austin, Texas

At 06:21 PM 5/10/01, you wrote:
>While I can understand people's view that they would like a face-to-face
debriefing with the Examiner, I think this has become overrated.
>
>I have never taken any RSCDS (or any SCD) exams, but I have taken around 30
highland / national exams under the UKA and SDTA. It is standard practice
in these exams for no feedback to be given at the time, but each candidate
receives a sheet with written comments on each dance.
>
>I don't know about anyone else, but usually by the time I've finished the
exam (especially if it is something like a teaching exam, which is about 30
mins long) I just want to get out of that room, collapse in a heap and get a
drink (not necessarily in that order). If I did receive feedback then, I
would probably have forgotten it by the time I got home - especially as we
often sit up to 7 or 8 exams in the one day.
>
>With the written sheet of paper, I can go back over what the examiner has
said, and think about how I dance and work out where I am going wrong
(sometimes with the help of my teacher).
>
>I also find it interesting to look back on the sheets I was given years ago
and see how I've progressed (or which bits I still don't quite manage!)
>
>(Just) MHO,
>
>Seonaid
>
>Seonaid Gent
>Linlithgow, Scotland
>
>-----
>
>Express yourself @ another.com
>http://another.com

Examination debriefing

Message 25963 · Marjorie McLaughlin · 11 May 2001 07:41:14 · Top

Why does the RSCDS have to make candidates sweat it out for weeks (it's
nerve-wracking just watching them...) until they get the official
notification from headquarters. Why can't the examiners be empowered to
tell the candidate their result if not immediately, at least by the end of
the day?
>
> Lee

I was told that the Society's decision to stop informing candidates of their
results immediately following the examination was due to a belligerent
candidate from Southern California who argued with the examiners in the
middle of the exam. Let's hope that the decision about debriefing isn't an
expedient solution to an exceptional situation such as that one.

Marjorie McLaughlin
San Diego, CA

Examination debriefing

Message 25964 · John K. Andrews · 11 May 2001 08:00:07 · Top

Having recently gone through the examination process (I took my prelim in
April this year) I can state from personal experience that I found the
debriefing to be an extremely helpful and positive experience. The
examiner explained everything which subsequently appeared on the appraisal
form. He told me what I did right as well as what I need to work on and
gave me suggestions for improving both my personal dancing and my teaching.
Needless to say he took substantially longer than the "standard" ten
minutes. The examiners actually took about 30 minutes with each candidate
(we had four prelims and five teacher candidates). I would agree that the
appraisal forms are still a "work in progress", however, having said that,
I found the form helpful as it summarized what I had been told during the
debriefing. The appraisal form would not have been sufficient in itself to
fully inform me of the good and the bad of my examination.

As to Lee's suggestion that examinees be informed immediately as to whether
they passed or failed, I know that our examiners caucused for several hours
after the exams to consolidate there notes and impressions of the
candidates. While I would truly have liked to have known immediately if I
passed or failed, I appreciate the diligence and effort put forth by the
examiners to arrive at complete and fair results. The candidates in my
class all received there notifications in about two weeks (I understand
this is an improvement over what has previously been experienced). Perhaps
a procedure can be devised in the future to speed up the notification
process. Although, two weeks isn't bad, considering that Headquarters is
in the loop and the normal delays encountered with international mail.

As to the issue of keeping stooges waiting around while examiners debrief
candidates. I can say that our stooges didn't seem to mind. In fact one
of our teacher's was running a social dance session in another room for
dancers not involved in stooging (we conducted our exams on two regular
class nights) and for "off-duty" stooges. Also as someone who has stooged,
I can say that I never found any of the intervals caused by the debriefings
to be onerous.

Jay Andrews
Alexandria, VA, USA

At 05:18 PM 05/10/2001 -0500, you wrote:
>Echoing Peter's comment re the discussion at the recent Pearl Holmberg
>Workshop. There were two examiners present, and many teachers expressed
>their opinions about the verbal debriefing. My sense was that virtually
>everyone who spoke believed this was an extremely valuable aspect of the
>examination process. I understood that Elma McCausland was planning to
>report this to the Executive Council, and she urged those present to
>forward their views to the Council.
>
> From a personal perspective, I too found the feedback very helpful, and
>the session helped me come to a closure for the course and the exam. I
>took two pages of notes which I later reviewed with my tutor. The
>combination of the feedback, my synthesis of the notes and reviewing my
>notes with the tutor have helped guide my learning process as a
>teacher. There were a couple of elements in the debriefing which also
>appeared on the form I later received. Discussing the comments with the
>tutor helped my understanding of the suggestions. In fact, with only the
>written feedback I wouldn't have understood at all what the suggestion
>actually meant. (The differences were language and cultural between the UK

>and North America.)
>
>Noel Chavez
>Chicago
>
>At 11:05 AM 5/10/01 -0500, you wrote:
>>We heard about this from one of our members who attended the Pearl
Holmberg
>>Workshop (glowing review, by the way). The discussion there, as reported,
>>supports Mel's experience that this proposal (to do away with verbal
>>debriefing) is _not_ unanimously supported by examiners, the wording of
>>the committee minutes notwithstanding. The rationale for the proposal,
>>again as reported, is that it keeps volunteers (the dancers required to
>>support the examination) standing around. We have instructed our delegate
>>to RSCDS Executive to oppose the proposal.
>>
>>Peter McClure
>>Winnipeg, MB
>

Examination debriefing

Message 25972 · Kent Smith · 11 May 2001 14:49:25 · Top

I fully agree with who have said that the verbal feedback at the end of the
examination is a critical part of the examination process, especially given
the lack of useful information on the checklist written form. Many years
later, I still remember what advice I received at the end of both my
prelimin and certificate exams. As Mel Briscoe and others have said, this
is perhaps the only direct contact with some one from the international
organization that many teachers will ever have. It is also a time when
candidates are very open to comment and suggestions. Yes, the process is
imperfect and some examiners do a much better job of being both critical and
supportive than do others (some evidently do a terrible job), but I think it
is a grave mistake to abandon the process.

The minutes that Susi quoted seem to assume that maintaining the verbal
feedback somehow will distract from developing the result sheet and comments
to the tutor. I do not understand why it is an either/or situation. The
process of saying things to the candidate may actually clarify the points
one wishes to make on the result sheet and to the tutor. Let's work on
improving the verbal feedback as a critical element of the examination
process, not eliminate the only actual face-to-face interaction between the
candidate and the Society, as embodied in the examiner.

As Mel said, the result sheet is a work in progress. Please, let's not
abandon something good in the hope that we can improve something else enough
to replace it. The two media for feedback are different and should
supplement each other; one is not a replacement for the other.

Finally, "the media is the message." What does it say about the Society and
the relationships it wishes to have with its teachers and members when it
abandons interpersonal face-to-face communication in favor of written and
third-party communication?

I hope the Executive Council will not approve the recommendation.

Kent
Connecticut, USA

Examination debriefing

Message 25973 · Marilynn Knight · 11 May 2001 15:00:41 · Top

And perhaps this is a 'heads up' to the Powers That Be to look at the
suitability of an examiner from the perspective of his or her communication
to the examinee.

As one who has strong 'approach-avoidance'for every reason under the sun),
when considering the whole examination process both considering my own
nervous system and that of any dancer I would encourage to undergo it, I
think the more quality communication available the better. If I were a
candidate, I would actually want to tape the post-test comments of the
examiner, so I could re-visit them accurately later in a more relaxed
moment.

Marilynn Latta Knight

-----Original Message-----
From: Smith, Kent [mailto:kent.smith@trincoll.edu]
Sent: Friday, May 11, 2001 8:49 AM
To: 'strathspey@strathspey.org'
Subject: RE: Examination debriefing

I fully agree with who have said that the verbal feedback at the end of the
examination is a critical part of the examination process, especially given
the lack of useful information on the checklist written form. Many years
later, I still remember what advice I received at the end of both my
prelimin and certificate exams. As Mel Briscoe and others have said, this
is perhaps the only direct contact with some one from the international
organization that many teachers will ever have. It is also a time when
candidates are very open to comment and suggestions. Yes, the process is
imperfect and some examiners do a much better job of being both critical and
supportive than do others (some evidently do a terrible job), but I think it
is a grave mistake to abandon the process.

The minutes that Susi quoted seem to assume that maintaining the verbal
feedback somehow will distract from developing the result sheet and comments
to the tutor. I do not understand why it is an either/or situation. The
process of saying things to the candidate may actually clarify the points
one wishes to make on the result sheet and to the tutor. Let's work on
improving the verbal feedback as a critical element of the examination
process, not eliminate the only actual face-to-face interaction between the
candidate and the Society, as embodied in the examiner.

As Mel said, the result sheet is a work in progress. Please, let's not
abandon something good in the hope that we can improve something else enough
to replace it. The two media for feedback are different and should
supplement each other; one is not a replacement for the other.

Finally, "the media is the message." What does it say about the Society and
the relationships it wishes to have with its teachers and members when it
abandons interpersonal face-to-face communication in favor of written and
third-party communication?

I hope the Executive Council will not approve the recommendation.

Kent
Connecticut, USA

Examination debriefing

Message 25974 · Joy Gullikson · 11 May 2001 15:31:59 · Top

Does anyone else feel that maybe the stress (both induced and perceived) of
the examination process is a bit out of proportion to the social nature of
our hobby? And that the debriefing should be a wonderful experience to
learn from someone close to the source. I was very pleased with the time I
spent with both my prelim and full examiners, but I have witnessed
candidates who seemed not to be getting a debriefing, but a dressing down by
an examiner who needed to exert power, rather than share knowledge.

The answer, I hope, is in choosing appropriate examiners and understanding
that an examiner's job is not just to examine, but to raise the standard and
the enjoyment of SCD.

Joy Gullikson
Twin Cities Minnesota

Examination debriefing

Message 25975 · Marilynn Knight · 11 May 2001 15:36:21 · Top

You put it so eloquently and so succinctly, Joy!!!

-----Original Message-----
From: Joy Gullikson [mailto:Joy.Gullikson@Onvoy.com]
Sent: Friday, May 11, 2001 9:32 AM
To: 'strathspey@strathspey.org'
Subject: RE: Examination debriefing

Does anyone else feel that maybe the stress (both induced and perceived) of
the examination process is a bit out of proportion to the social nature of
our hobby? And that the debriefing should be a wonderful experience to
learn from someone close to the source. I was very pleased with the time I
spent with both my prelim and full examiners, but I have witnessed
candidates who seemed not to be getting a debriefing, but a dressing down by
an examiner who needed to exert power, rather than share knowledge.

The answer, I hope, is in choosing appropriate examiners and understanding
that an examiner's job is not just to examine, but to raise the standard and
the enjoyment of SCD.

Joy Gullikson
Twin Cities Minnesota

Examination debriefing

Message 25980 · Priscilla M. Burrage · 11 May 2001 16:31:00 · Top

On Fri, 11 May 2001, Smith, Kent wrote about many good points that I have
eliminated. Sorry Kent.

> What does it say about the Society and
> the relationships it wishes to have with its teachers and members when it
> abandons interpersonal face-to-face communication in favor of written and
> third-party communication?

It says that the Society is not really sincere about changing to meet the
expectations of today's adults.

It says that the Society prefers to hide behind rules and regulations
rather than make the examination tour changes needed to include a talk
with each candidate as a standard part of the examination process.

It says the Society needs to review how it selects examiners.

In short it displays an attitude that I for one do not believe is
prevalent in the Society. We've heard a lot recently about less formal is
better; I believe the sincerity of those speeches. Don't prove me wrong.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Priscilla Burrage Vermont US
(pburrage@zoo.uvm.edu)

Examination debriefing

Message 25985 · eclyde · 11 May 2001 18:10:01 · Top

When I was examined by Jean Milligan (as she then was) in Ottawa
for both the preliminary and full certificates, I had to wait
for several weeks after the exams (until she got back to Scotland)
before I learned the results. So long delays are not new.

Eric

----- Original Message -----
From: Marjorie McLaughlin <marjoriem@home.com>
To: <strathspey@strathspey.org>
Sent: Friday, May 11, 2001 1:41 AM
Subject: Re: Examination debriefing

> Why does the RSCDS have to make candidates sweat it out for weeks (it's
> nerve-wracking just watching them...) until they get the official
> notification from headquarters. Why can't the examiners be empowered to
> tell the candidate their result if not immediately, at least by the end
of
> the day?
> >
> > Lee
>
> I was told that the Society's decision to stop informing candidates of
their
> results immediately following the examination was due to a belligerent
> candidate from Southern California who argued with the examiners in the
> middle of the exam. Let's hope that the decision about debriefing isn't an
> expedient solution to an exceptional situation such as that one.
>
> Marjorie McLaughlin
> San Diego, CA
>

Examination debriefing

Message 25987 · Martin Mulligan · 11 May 2001 20:06:58 · Top

My take on the RSCDS examination system is that it was/is organized as a
typical UK-style exam (such as A-levels or, in my case, Irish leaving
Certificate). One wrote an exam, went home, and waited until the results
were released.

I wonder what the time delay is in the UK between taking the Prelim test or
Teacher's Cert exam and receiving the results is? If the examiners file
their reports promptly then with next day (or so) mail delivery, candidates
will know their results within a week or two.

Is it only on the overseas tours where examiners wait until the end of the
tour, coupled with longer mail delivery times (especially if airmail is not
used) that suffers from the very long time intervals?

Finally, when I took my Prelim test (Boston) or Teacher's exam (TAC), I
remember being told that the reason for not revealing results immediately
was to avoid undue pressure being put on the examiners by overly-aggressive
tutors.

Martin

=========================================================================
Martin E. Mulligan
St. John's (Newfoundland) Branch, RSCDS
mulligan@morgan.ucs.mun.ca
=========================================================================

Examination debriefing

Message 25988 · Melbourne Briscoe · 11 May 2001 19:01:12 · Top

My understanding, from this year's North American tour, is that the
examiners mailed their results to Headquarters within a day of the
completion of each site's exam. That is, before they left Philadelphia, they
mailed the results from that area's exam. I know they mailed the Washington
DC area results before they left here. They did not wait until the entire
tour was complete to send results to HQ for relay to the candidates. Delay
was about two weeks: the time it takes the mail to get to HQ, the forms
processed, and mailed back to the States.

Our examiners were George Lawson, based in Scotland, and Mary Brandon, who
is originally from Scotland but who has lived in the United States for many
years and is counted as one of the North American examiners. My
understanding from our nine candidates is that both were kind, encouraging,
and made the exam debriefing as positive an experience as possible. The
debriefings ran about 20 minutes each; some were a bit shorter. Their
debriefing of the tutors, after the last candidate had finished, was longer
than that, but equally kind and encouraging.

Ellie Briscoe
Northern Virginia branch

-----Original Message-----
From: Martin E. Mulligan <mulligan@morgan.ucs.mun.ca>
To: strathspey@strathspey.org <strathspey@strathspey.org>
Date: Friday, May 11, 2001 12:37 PM
Subject: Re: Examination debriefing

>Is it only on the overseas tours where examiners wait until the end of the
>tour, coupled with longer mail delivery times (especially if airmail is not
>used) that suffers from the very long time intervals?

Examination debriefing

Message 25989 · Marilynn Knight · 11 May 2001 19:17:43 · Top

Honestly, from the little I've seen up close to examinees, I think there is
some logic in a bit of a delay. The course is strenuous, and some days to
get back to a balance and a distance from all that expectation might be
good. Also, maybe the examiners want to go safely into hiding before the
results are known to avoid dance exam rage???

Anonymous, I'm sure...

-----Original Message-----
From: Eric Clyde [mailto:eclyde@home.com]
Sent: Friday, May 11, 2001 12:10 PM
To: strathspey@strathspey.org
Subject: Re: Examination debriefing

When I was examined by Jean Milligan (as she then was) in Ottawa
for both the preliminary and full certificates, I had to wait
for several weeks after the exams (until she got back to Scotland)
before I learned the results. So long delays are not new.

Eric

----- Original Message -----
From: Marjorie McLaughlin <marjoriem@home.com>
To: <strathspey@strathspey.org>
Sent: Friday, May 11, 2001 1:41 AM
Subject: Re: Examination debriefing

> Why does the RSCDS have to make candidates sweat it out for weeks (it's
> nerve-wracking just watching them...) until they get the official
> notification from headquarters. Why can't the examiners be empowered to
> tell the candidate their result if not immediately, at least by the end
of
> the day?
> >
> > Lee
>
> I was told that the Society's decision to stop informing candidates of
their
> results immediately following the examination was due to a belligerent
> candidate from Southern California who argued with the examiners in the
> middle of the exam. Let's hope that the decision about debriefing isn't an
> expedient solution to an exceptional situation such as that one.
>
> Marjorie McLaughlin
> San Diego, CA
>

Examination debriefing

Message 25992 · ron.mackey · 12 May 2001 00:13:51 · Top

>
> > What does it say about the Society and
> > the relationships it wishes to have with its teachers and members when
it
> > abandons interpersonal face-to-face communication in favor of written
and
> > third-party communication?
>
> It says that the Society is not really sincere about changing to meet the
> expectations of today's adults.
>
> It says that the Society prefers to hide behind rules and regulations
> rather than make the examination tour changes needed to include a talk
> with each candidate as a standard part of the examination process.
>
> It says the Society needs to review how it selects examiners.
>
> In short it displays an attitude that I for one do not believe is
> prevalent in the Society. We've heard a lot recently about less formal is
> better; I believe the sincerity of those speeches. Don't prove me wrong.

Hi, Priscilla
It may not have been intended to be as harsh as it seems.
I have been on the edge of a conversation where an examiner was
saying that there is a question of how much can be packed into a very
limited time, especially on a visit abroad. Looked at from the
examiners point of view there is so much to fit into a limited time
and by the end of a day of listening to and watching the same dances
over and over with so many explanations of the same dance the brain
must become a bit detached. Under those conditions it must be very
difficult to speak pleasantly and encouragingly, at least to the
last few candidates.
On a whistle stop tour the problem must be multiplied.
One other comment. A great friend who often toured in 'furrin
parts' once said on returning home 'I don't want to speak about
Scottish Dancing for the next six months. Everywhere, all the time
people wished to talk dancing. While travelling through the most
marvellous scenery and fascinating places someone would be asking
about how I viewed some awkward part of some dance or other. I've
had enough - for a while.:)'
Pity the poor examiner???

Cheers, Ron :)

< 0 Ron Mackey,(Purveyor of Pat's Party Pieces)
'O> Mottingham,
/#\ London. UK.
l>
Ron.Mackey@btinternet.com

Examination debriefing

Message 25994 · ron.mackey · 12 May 2001 00:13:51 · Top

> Reply-to: strathspey@strathspey.org
> From: Joy Gullikson <Joy.Gullikson@Onvoy.com>
> To: "'strathspey@strathspey.org'" <strathspey@strathspey.org>
> Subject: RE: Examination debriefing
> Date: Fri, 11 May 2001 08:31:59 -0500

>
> Does anyone else feel that maybe the stress (both induced and perceived)
of
> the examination process is a bit out of proportion to the social nature of
> our hobby? And that the debriefing should be a wonderful experience to
> learn from someone close to the source. I was very pleased with the time
I
> spent with both my prelim and full examiners, but I have witnessed
> candidates who seemed not to be getting a debriefing, but a dressing down
by
> an examiner who needed to exert power, rather than share knowledge.
>
> The answer, I hope, is in choosing appropriate examiners and understanding
> that an examiner's job is not just to examine, but to raise the standard
and
> the enjoyment of SCD.
>
> Joy Gullikson

Hi,
I'm posting the whole of Joy's message as it makes my comment a'
propos - does anyone else get a tingle from all this that examinees
should award points to the examiners for the positive feedback they
obtain ??? :) And perhaps write a critique to H.Q. on the
effectiveness of the examiner in spreading the joyful (no pun
intended) message?
Please do not forget that I am left-handed!

Cheers, Ron :)

< 0 Ron Mackey,(Purveyor of Pat's Party Pieces)
'O> Mottingham,
/#\ London. UK.
l>
Ron.Mackey@btinternet.com

Examination debriefing

Message 26011 · Lee Fuell · 11 May 2001 21:00:27 · Top

Joy,

Re:
>
> Does anyone else feel that maybe the stress (both induced and perceived)
of
> the examination process is a bit out of proportion to the social nature of
> our hobby?

> Joy Gullikson
> Twin Cities Minnesota

Yes. The reason I cited the driver's licenses and pilot's license
examining processes in my previous posts is that these are, in
fact, potentially matters of life and death. Becoming an SCD
teacher is not, yet the RSCDS (by anecdotal evidence on this list
and elsewhere) seems to take it as seriously as if it were. To my
egalitarian mind, this seems to indicate a flaw in the corporate
culture of the RSCDS that hopefully Alan & Co. will work to change.

My perceptions may be inaccurate based on limited exposure to
the process; however, from the posts on this list I don't seem to be
the only one with these perceptions. Given that in most cases
involving human attitudes and behavior, perception is more
important than reality, I would suggest the RSCDS make
"perception management" a priority.

Lee

Donald Lee Fuell, Jr.
President, Cincinnati Branch
Royal Scottish Country Dance Society
http://www.rscdscincinnati.org
fuell@mindspring.com

Examination debriefing

Message 26028 · ron.mackey · 14 May 2001 01:20:59 · Top

> Yes. The reason I cited the driver's licenses and pilot's license
> examining processes in my previous posts is that these are, in
> fact, potentially matters of life and death. Becoming an SCD
> teacher is not, yet the RSCDS (by anecdotal evidence on this list
> and elsewhere) seems to take it as seriously as if it were. To my
> egalitarian mind, this seems to indicate a flaw in the corporate
> culture of the RSCDS that hopefully Alan & Co. will work to change.
>
> My perceptions may be inaccurate based on limited exposure to
> the process; however, from the posts on this list I don't seem to be
> the only one with these perceptions. Given that in most cases
> involving human attitudes and behavior, perception is more
> important than reality, I would suggest the RSCDS make
> "perception management" a priority.
>
> Lee

Hi, Lee
I can remember the teachers sent down to us in the 50's-60's
who
were ferocious and worked us like Guards Seargeant Majors.
Terrifying.
I think that the perspective has change and is relaxing more.
Pragmatism is creeping in !
Your comments put me in mind of the late, great Bill Shankley who,
for many years, lead the Liverpool Football Club to great
achievements. He was talking to the press after an important match
and in answer to a question said, 'We have to remember that we are
speaking about a game of football here, not a matter of life and
death. It's much more important than that !!'
Cheers, Ron :)

< 0 Ron Mackey,(Purveyor of Pat's Party Pieces)
'O> Mottingham,
/#\ London. UK.
l>
Ron.Mackey@btinternet.com

Examination debriefing

Message 26062 · Priscilla M. Burrage · 15 May 2001 15:10:01 · Top

On Fri, 11 May 2001 ron.mackey@mail.btinternet.com wrote thoughtful
comments regarding my harsh email re eliminating the "litttle chat," the
personal interaction between an examiner ana a candidate. I was
answering Kent's equally thoughtful question about the relationships of
the Society and its teachers/members (copied below):

Thank you Ron and I apologize for introducing harshness into these
discussions.

My harsh email was intended to get the attention of those who love the
Society and all that it has accomplished. I would have preferred to start
with a thoughtful discussion of pedagogy (the art and science of teaching
children) and andragogy (the technology of teaching adult learners). An
over-simplified description of the differences follows:
The child says I will learn what you know I should learn. The adult
learner says to his/her neighbor, "How do you change the tire on this
car?" or "Show me how you make a cake?"

As far as the teacher examinations and dance proficiency tests are
concerned, most adult learners are there because they want to learn, not
because they have to get a piece of paper certifying that they have
"passed" a course (in order to move on to a more advanced course) or get a
job or get a gun permit or drivers license. The opportunity to learn on a
one-to-one basis immediately after the exam is crucial to their way of
learning -- and it is our responsibility to teach the adult learner when
the adult learner wants to learn.

We in the "overseas" areas are most vocal in wanting as much of an adult
learners' approach to the exam as possible because we don't have the
ceilidh and reelers dancing that our adult can migrate to when the Society
constraints get to be too much for those who "just want to dance."

sincerely, Priscilla

The messages that started this email:

> > > What does it say about the Society and
> > > the relationships it wishes to have with its teachers and members when it
> > > abandons interpersonal face-to-face communication in favor of written and
> > > third-party communication?
> >
> > It says that the Society is not really sincere about changing to meet the
> > expectations of today's adults.
> >
> > It says that the Society prefers to hide behind rules and regulations
> > rather than make the examination tour changes needed to include a talk
> > with each candidate as a standard part of the examination process.
> >
> > It says the Society needs to review how it selects examiners.
> >
> > In short it displays an attitude that I for one do not believe is
> > prevalent in the Society. We've heard a lot recently about less formal is
> > better; I believe the sincerity of those speeches. Don't prove me wrong.
>
> Hi, Priscilla
> It may not have been intended to be as harsh as it seems.
> I have been on the edge of a conversation where an examiner was
> saying that there is a question of how much can be packed into a very
> limited time, especially on a visit abroad. Looked at from the
> examiners point of view there is so much to fit into a limited time
> and by the end of a day of listening to and watching the same dances
> over and over with so many explanations of the same dance the brain
> must become a bit detached. Under those conditions it must be very
> difficult to speak pleasantly and encouragingly, at least to the
> last few candidates.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Priscilla Burrage Vermont US
(pburrage@zoo.uvm.edu)

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