Two Part Answers to Questions

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Smuttynose Island
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Two Part Answers to Questions

Post by Smuttynose Island » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:22 pm

Like another TJer, I'm looking for some help with writing high-school level questions, although this time it's U.S. History.

I'm wondering how acceptable two part answers are. For instance if one wrote an tossup on Sacco and Vanzetti, it would be acceptable to ask for both of the last names, because that's how they are learned, correct? You don't learn about Sacco or Vanzetti, you learn Sacco and Vanzetti. But what about asking for say the Virginia and New Jersey Plans. They are linked, but not in the manner that Sacco and Vanzetti are. If one was asking about early potential U.S. Government plans, it would make more sense to ask for one of them, or either, correct?

Thanks for the help.
Daniel Hothem
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dtaylor4
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Re: Two Part Answers to Questions

Post by dtaylor4 » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:28 pm

For bonus parts, I think it's fine, but you'd need to indicate whether it's 5/5 or "all or nothing."

For tossups, my suggestion would be to add a moderator note to be read prior to beginning the tossup, but this can cause issues.

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Not That Kind of Christian!!
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Re: Two Part Answers to Questions

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:38 pm

Putting a "Warning: Two answers required!" clause at the beginning of questions suffices. However, be sure that asking about this two-part answer is more valuable than picking one of those two parts before endeavoring to write the question at all.
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Re: Two Part Answers to Questions

Post by cvdwightw » Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:40 pm

waddle1 wrote:I'm wondering how acceptable two part answers are. For instance if one wrote an tossup on Sacco and Vanzetti, it would be acceptable to ask for both of the last names, because that's how they are learned, correct? You don't learn about Sacco or Vanzetti, you learn Sacco and Vanzetti. But what about asking for say the Virginia and New Jersey Plans. They are linked, but not in the manner that Sacco and Vanzetti are. If one was asking about early potential U.S. Government plans, it would make more sense to ask for one of them, or either, correct?
My cardinal rule for tossups is to determine the number of non-trivial middle and late-middle clues that would distinguish between the two things. If the number is sufficient to write a good tossup, ask for one. If not, ask for both, say "two answers required" at the beginning of the question, and focus exclusively on things that apply to both parties.

In the Sacco-Vanzetti situation, I believe there is a total of one non-trivial middle clue distinguishing one from the other: one of them was later conjectured to be guilty and the other innocent. If you don't know this clue or don't remember who was what, you're not buzzing until they name-drop the other guy, since everything else from that clue to the end of the tossup is going to equally apply to both. A similar issue is with asking about Wilson and Penzias - there are no non-trivial middle clues that differentiate one from the other, since the entire last half of your tossup is going to talk about the discovery of CMBR (actually, you should just write on CMBR instead of either/both of those two guys).

On the other hand, there are numerous differences between the Virginia and New Jersey plans that can be used as middle and late middle clues, especially at the HS novice level (e.g. who presented it, how many houses in the legislature, how seats in the legislature were assigned), and then you can end with something like "FTP name this plan which was combined with the New Jersey Plan in the Connecticut Compromise." That means that it's a lot easier to write a question that focuses exclusively on one of the two answers and does not introduce coin-flip bowl. Similarly, Albert Michelson did a heck of a lot of important work outside of his collaboration with Morley. That means that even though you'll have to write a sentence or two where it turns into coin-flip bowl, someone with actual knowledge should be able to figure out which one was talked about earlier in the question.
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