Saturday, April 22, 2023

Oral Exams in my Philosophy Classes


                                                  (Monroe County Community College)

I taught philosophy (logic, philosophy of religion, Western philosophy) for eighteen years at Monroe County Community College (Michigan). My favorite course to teach was Philosophy of Religion.

Student grades were based on three, one-on-one, oral exams. Each exam had five     questions. Students knew in advance what the questions were, and how to answer each one of them.

I graded each exam from E-A, at an introductory class level.

The first exam.

  1. State and explain Anselm's Ontological Argument for God's Existence.
  2. State and explain Gaunilo's objection to Anselm's Ontological Argument, and how to respond back to Gaunilo.
  3. State and explain Kant's criticism of the Ontological Argument that 'exists' is not a predicate.
  4. State and explain the Kalam Cosmological Argument for God's existence.
  5. State and explain the Argument for God's Existence Based on Anthropic Coincidences at the Origin of the Universe.

My lectures were formed around responding to and explaining these questions. 

Advantages of giving oral exams included:

  • students knew exactly what I, the professor, wanted
  • plagiarism was impossible
  • cheating was impossible
  • memorization and repetition deepened the correct responses in students
  • years later, I occasionally run into a student who remembers these arguments
  • no grading written papers
  • getting to personally converse with and relate to my students
For some validation, see HERE.