# etzel008: November 2011 Archives

## Standardized Testing

Are standardized tests too difficult?

It is not that these tests are ridiculously difficult; it's that they are simply ridiculous. They don't have the ability to capture what it means to be a well-educated person. As the president of the National Academy of Sciences has remarked, questions that focus on "excruciatingly boring material" not only fail to judge students' capacity to reason but wind up driving away potential future scientists."
The following is an example of a high school standardized test question that students commonly get wrong:

n 12 3 4 5 6 tn 3 5
The first two terms of a sequence, t, and t2, are shown above as 3 and 5.
Using the rule:
tn = tn_2 + tn-2, where n is greater than or equal to 3, complete the table.

This question was found under the math section of the test but it does not actually test a students math skills, it tests the students ability to follow a set of instructions. This is really asking the test taker to add 3 and 5 to get 8, then add 5 and 8 to get 13, then add 8 to 13 to get 21, etc. In addition to the wording of the question being unclear and difficult to follow, many students will get questions like these wrong because they haven't been exposed to this type of notation or question. Questions such as this one demonstrate that students have memorized a procedure, not that they fully understand what they are doing.

## Ergonomics: Design to Fit the Human Body

Ergonomics refers to the study of how our bodies interact with the technology and devices in our environments. With the rapid growth of technology, the understanding of how our bodies can work comfortably and efficiently under various conditions is becoming more important.
As an interior design major, the study of ergonomics is a topic of high importance. Proper ergonomics in interiors address issues of safety, comfort, and well-being of the occupants. The design of offices is an area of design that studies and utilizes ergonomics extensively. Chairs, tables, workstations, conference rooms, and collaborative work configurations are all designed to adjust and fit the varying sizes of the human body. People spend much of their lives at work.; it is crucial that their work environments promote comfort, efficiency and low stress in order to maintain high worker retention and overall well-being.
Herman Miller is an office furniture design company that dedicates extensive time and funding to research on ergonomics and the science behind designing to fit the human body. Herman Miller designed the first ergonomic chair for the office and today creates a variety of furniture built to adjust to suit the body and comfortably as possible. As part of the concept of universal design (design to suit all needs and abilities equally) ergonomic design strives to suit the diverse needs of all users.