“It was so simple but challenging”, quipped one student after the quiz. Definitely students love this type of quiz. They find the quiz on finding the determinants, inverse matrices, and eigenvalues/eigenvectors give them the opportunity to test how far their learning progresses on that particular course. That is, taking a simple but challenging quiz!

Engineering Mathematics 2 Batch 2012-2013 Second Semester

Engineering Mathematics 2 Batch 2012-2013 Second Semester

What makes it simple? It is simple because the given matrices during the quiz were almost similar to the examples discussed in details during classroom session except a change on one of the entries in every row. This type of quiz is challenging because it is open notes, books, and other related materials. Laptops are allowed where they can use the program MS Excel. But everybody has to observe the” strictly no borrowing materials from the classmates!” rule.

Another word of caution! Solutions must be legibly written and presented in detail or step by step. Laptops are used only for counterchecking or guide as their works in progress. That’s it and nothing more!


Open books, notes, and related references during quizzes are welcomed by engineering students. Mathematics especially dealing on matrices is difficult to work with. As matrix size increases, the difficulty in computation also increases. Rules are sometime complicated and requires complete understanding before our confidence of getting correct answer develops. Memorization of procedures does not work well if without understanding as you will soon forget the procedures as the solution progresses. Most often in matrices a change of a single element or entry will change the whole environment of computation. The solution is very sensitive to the slight changes in the initial condition of the matrices. Just like chaotic theory, any error in a single step can produce large error in the final answer. That’s why open notes, books, etc during quizzes works well with matrices. The main objective is to make students familiar the algorithm on how to get to the final answer.

The reason is clear. Let the students learn the basics of matrices operation. With almost all computation nowadays done by a computer, we are preparing our students to this world ahead. It is then the classroom learning works in the open fields after completing their course. In a real world, computers and engineers work hand in hand in the industrial fields.


As expected silence engulfed the whole classroom as quiz started. Everybody was busy and concentrated on their works. No ogling for solutions on another paper. All eyes were on their own paper. Time limitation for the quiz was enforced. A real world in a classroom!

What was the result on that quiz? Only sixty percent (60%) passed. Failed students came to me with various reasons. Some confided that they had not prepared well and not listening during classroom lectures. In summary, failed students had reasons with the same denominator. They same old stories! Still clinging to their old ways of bad habits! They vowed to change the old ways. They blamed themselves for failing the quiz! One thing is certain…not blaming to the lecturer!

So, what is next? Some wept and admittedly vowed to change for a better! Then I told these poor youngsters, “Go and change your ways for it is not too late, more quizzes are coming. Unless you change your ways, you will not pass this course”

Sounds biblical?  Yes. Students must change their ways in order to pass the course. Jesus at the early part of his preaching often told the crowd to change the ways and believe the good news so that they will not be perished. Everybody must be prepared.

“He said, “The time has come; the kingdom of God is at hand. Change your ways and believe the Good News.””

– Mark 1,15

“I tell you: no. But unless you change your ways, you will all perish as they did.”

– Luke 13,3

That’s it. Failed students must change for a better for they will they will not only pass this course but one day they will also meet the One sitting on the throne for final judgment to all mankind.


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