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Blog Computing Science - DBIT4 19/May/2005

I've already summarised my views about the DBIT exam experience, and Chris has ably summarised the questions, so what remains to be said?

"Answer all questions," read the rubric. This is fairly uncommon amongst the level-four exams (only DBIT4, AI4, DIP5 and NC4 require it), although it's become mandatory at level three, and it's quite clearly biting our colleagues in the arse. Whilst I can see the point of introducing it in some subjects (as Stu reminded me, it was possible to do AP3 without ever subclassing java.lang.Thread, which can be problematic later; the solution does not appear to be found in dressing up multithreaded code in obscure "real-world" examples), it does seem to be contrary to the notion of specialising as you become more advanced. As a course, DBIT suffers in terms of coherence: large parts of the course are covered by taking DAS4 (CORBA, Servlets, JSP), Grid Computing (web services), Information Retrieval (search engines), NCT4 and SAC4; not to mention DB3, NSA3 and IM2. I know that, if many of those courses were answer-all-questions, I'd not have been as sanguine in those posts, and the term "modem-modem protocol" would be taboo.

Then again, consider the positives. Unlike the two previous database exams, it was well-timed, just fitting neatly into the extended, two-and-a-quarter hour allocation. The questions were all pretty fair (the CORBA question notwithstanding? It depends if you memorised that slide), and the questions on e-commerce were better-posed than in the sample paper. (There must be an art to devising a sample paper: neither can it be too similar to or too radically different from the actual exam, but who can be bothered summoning twice the imagination?)

As with most of these exams, it would have been possible (and indeed, conceivable) that the paper could have been contrived to be virtually impossible. Fortunately for us, Femi didn't.



PS. I've just noticed that The Bill is currently featuring a villain called Lewis Mackenzie. Perhaps our own Dr. Mackenzie e-mailed the writers to complain?


spoonie said:
the danger with an exam like todays was that he could have put in things like 3adv and 2disadv of ColdFusion or whatever. not necessarily that hard but not covered in any great detail in the course. that way, they can make a whole exam that is impossible unless u know every slide backwards. there were some elements of that (CORBA) but i thought it was ok overall.

ach, what am i on about, i probably failed the fucking thing!!


Gary Fleming said:
As I said to Neil earlier, given the course material, I think todays exam was about as hard as it could reasonably be. Honestly, could Femi have made it significantly more difficult? We never covered anything that hard, we rarely got into the real issues of Internet technology (bar that bizarre assex on web services as distributed objects), and generally just paid lip service to the acronym generators at the W3C.

It's not a Dickman/Perkins course.

Oh yes, glad I got plenty of name checking into todays. Been trying my best to get as many as possible into my exam papers where possible.





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