Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

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Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by AKKOLADE »

I don't have the time or energy to fully launch into this right now, but basically I have concerns that sets like HSAPQ's regular season sets of last year and NAQT's IS sets are too difficult for your lower level teams, and that basically good quiz bowl is harming itself by leaving these teams behind. I'll point to the stats for the University tourney on IS-96 with bouncebacks this past weekend and the Parkersburg High tourney on the second HSAPQ 4Q set* of last year as examples of results at local tournaments lacking multiple teams that could compete nationally at the top level.

*Note that PPB were inflated due to me being dumb and not indicating bouncebacks were used in the stats, having to shove all the bounceback points into the original bonus points.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots »

Not speaking for HSAPQ here, I think some of that just happens when you have to fill 15 packets worth of questions. Charlie posted something similar here a while back. It's not too hard to avoid stuff like Manuel de Falla, but when nobody in the field knows Snell's Law or Brunelleschi, well...what's to be done? Both of those things are among the easiest possible answers in their respective categories, and there's no way to write 30 physics or visual arts questions all below that level of difficulty.

I'm in no way disagreeing with Fred's post, and I strongly disagree with those who would justify basically any answer by saying "Well, they should just know it." We can mitigate the problem by not writing so many tossups on the canonical answers most high schoolers are fairly unlikely to know (Michel Foucault, Yukio Mishima, whoever). However, vendors do have to produce full sets, and if a team doesn't know who Oscar Wilde is, there's not much to be done.

If there are a few categories that tend to go dead all the time, perhaps we should take another look at the high school distribution.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Snell's law is not easy, Brunelleschi isn't really either. When things like Michelangelo from easy clues go dead, sure, then it's time to ask what more to be done.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Auroni »

I think Matt meant Snell's law and Brunelleschi as examples of things that get into 15 packet sets because physics and arts get tough to fill out at the end.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by quizbowllee »

I think those of us who have been doing this for a long time and who hear things like Snell's Law (to continue the example) ad nauseum have developed a seriously warped sense of what really is and isn't "easy" to players. Having started completely over this year with players with little or no experience, I'm coming to terms with what is "common knowledge" and what is "quiz bowl knowledge". For example, high schoolers who don't play quiz bowl (or who are new to it) don't know Symphonie Fantastique.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

I think the single biggest flaw in high school writing that results in an unnecessarily increased difficulty is writers trickling down clues from the college game that high schoolers have no reason to know other than from studying packets. There is already something of a backlash against this afoot, which is very good, but more needs to be done. I think that the main goal should be correcting that problem across the board, and instead replacing the answers and clues that solely reward reading hard packets with answers and clues that actually may have some relevance to the larger high school community. That means that questions will generally be more accessible to less experienced teams if you are cutting out a significant section of any given set that they literally have no chance of answering right unless they read lots of packets.

As one part of this, I think certain aspects of some high school distributions need to be rethought. I see no reason why social science should be given equal weight to painting in any tournament. Top teams are good at social science because it is relatively easy to get good at the high school social science canon without real knowledge, so when a tournament asks a bunch of questions on anthropologists and sociologists like James Frazer or Clifford Geertz that high schoolers have no intrinsic reason to know about from the real world, that means top teams can exploit incredibly fake knowledge to pick up a disproportionately large part of the distribution that would go dead otherwise. To me, this seems to unfairly widen the gap even further between top and bottom teams, when a format that more accurately reflected things that high schoolers might actually know would produce a fairer result. Even at the national level I think the kind of knowledge that is systemically rewarded by social science is the wrong kind of knowledge to incentivize, whether or not the top teams can convert it, and I would like the editors of the NSC to rethink their 1/1 SS distribution. When is the last time a high schooler who didn't play quizbowl even heard of Geertz, much less decided to read The Interpretation of Cultures on their own?

Once we fix this wide-reaching problem in the game and can make it truly more reflective of what high schoolers might actually have a reason to know, I predict there will be a noticeable increase in conversion statistics across the board. Once we hit that point, if we still are not reaching teams well enough, it would be worth revisiting Fred's argument to see what kinds of further tweaking of quizbowl we could perform to make the game even better. However, stopping the trickling down of the college canon in its tracks seems to me the most important way to handle the problem of difficulty in the present.
Last edited by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) on Sat Oct 23, 2010 5:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

As an aside, the Symphonie Fantastique is in fact something that a player with any decent familiarity with classical music should at least have heard of. Unlike some other common quizbowl topics, the Symphonie Fantastique is in fact intrinsically important and known by all kinds of people who do not play quizbowl, so unless people think we should not be testing as much baseline familiarity with monumental works of western music, it seems to me to be exactly the kind of thing we should ask about because people actually have a reason to know it from real knowledge.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat »

It seems that one solution to this that previous people have hinted at is simply to make sure that most-to-all regular difficulty answers come from things that we could reasonably expect a high school student to have learned in class. Maybe my view of this is distorted because I go to a magnet school with on the order of 30 AP classes, but every high schooler should take at least one year of conceptual physics at some point, and they should learn about Snell's law, angular momentum, and simple harmonic oscillation in this class. Every high schooler should take a European History class where they should study, for some examples from Charlie's GSAC list, the Great Northern War, Savonarola, Zwingli (although this is harder, we mentioned him only briefly), and the Committee of Public Safety. To be honest, if people aren't learning these, that's a problem with our educational system; they aren't especially hard or obscure. This becomes much more difficult in other subject areas, however. While I always make sure we have at least one person who is taking/has taken AP Art History playing at a time, if your school doesn't offer that you would really have no reason to learn it, outside of quizbowl. I frequently answer philosophy, and sometimes religion questions from my philosophy class, but again, not all schools offer it. The same goes for economics, and other social sciences are even harder because they are covered even less at high school. We offer a sociology class and an ethnic studies class, but I don't know anybody on the team who has taken either. The place where this may be most difficult is literature: questions on Great Gatsby, Catcher in the Rye, and Romeo and Juliet are fine, because everybody I know reads those in high school, but every high school assigns its students different things, so we can't really only ask on things that a lot of people will have read. If you look at the list of dead/deadish TUs, literature is amazing disproportionally represented. I, at least, don't really know what there is we can do about this.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Matthew D »

I can agree with Joe that seems to be a problem with the system. I don't feel that you have to have a large amount of AP classes to expect a high order of teaching and learning to go in both inside and outside the classroom which translates into a better prepared player IMO. I can understand the students not being exposed to some of the art and music but I really have a hard time with students/players that are seniors not being exposed to conceptual physics, chemistry, classical literature, and most of the "important" ideas from history that would allow them to be socially literate
On the subject of Snell's Law being something that is hard, it is part of the assigned course of study for physics in the state of Alabama, same with several of the ideal gas laws in chemistry. So this should not be considered hard for the high school canon.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

When I say something is hard I'm not saying it should not be asked, I am just saying we should ask about it with the knowledge that its not easy (and restrict it to things like middle or hard parts of bonuses accordingly). Just because something is in the high school canon does not mean it is an appropriate tossup answer at an average invitational.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Habitat_Against_Humanity »

Joe N wrote: but every high schooler should take at least one year of conceptual physics at some point, and they should learn about Snell's law, angular momentum, and simple harmonic oscillation in this class. Every high schooler should take a European History class where they should study, for some examples from Charlie's GSAC list, the Great Northern War, Savonarola, Zwingli (although this is harder, we mentioned him only briefly), and the Committee of Public Safety.

This is simply not true. I ended up majoring in Physics, but my high school physics preparation was based entirely on algebra and included only brief mentions of angular momentum and only touched on SHO in terms of Hooke's Law (Snell's Law was never once mentioned). No high school in my county even offered AP Physics and Physics itself was an elective course, so I really don't know how a student can be expected to learn material not covered in the curriculum with little to no guidance. As for European History, some of these topics were covered in AP World (neither of the high schools I went to offered AP Euro), but again no one was ever required to take this class. When a school only offers three AP classes and no real art or music, can one really hold the students accountable for not knowing these aspects of the canon? Sure, a student can study on their own time by studying packets, but I'm willing to wager that most players/coaches are not aware these resources exist. I guess my point is that the growth of the ability of high school quizbowlers is often hampered by the academic limits the schools place on them.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by cvdwightw »

Let's look at this from the point of view of the question writer.

Literature: you try filling an entire tournament with books you were assigned in high school. Go. Now. Do it. And don't complain when Gassire's Lute shows up.
Arts: you try filling an entire tournament with composers whose works you have played in band or orchestra. Then try figuring out what their most famous works are, because they're probably not the works you played.
Science: you try filling an entire tournament with physics tossups that have come up in whatever non-AP physics class your school has.
Social Science: you try filling an entire tournament with people and concepts you learned in whatever social science classes your school offers, if it even offers any.
Geography: your school probably doesn't even offer a "geography" course, so I don't know what to do here.

The only real solutions are (a) stop writing tournament sets that are more than about five packets long, (c) change the distribution to include more of "well-converted categories," which probably means doing unsavory things like increasing pop culture, (c) write on really easy things and then fill out the rest of the distribution with whatever wacky answers you want, or (d) write on really easy things and then try to extrapolate to the next level of "this isn't really easy for everyone, but it is easy for some teams." Of these, (d) is the most palatable.

Yes, we're leaving the really low-level teams behind, but there really isn't any good way not to leave these teams behind. It's not like bad local formats aren't leaving the worst teams in Illinois, Missouri, etc. behind.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Cheynem »

I am not sure if I like this philosophy that quizbowl should necessarily should reflect things that your average student would learn in classes. I said this in another thread, but looking at an average ACF Fall packet, maybe like a third of the answer lines I learned about in a course (both college and HS courses). Far more were things I encountered outside of class because I was intellectually curious, which I think quizbowl should attempt to reward within reason (for instance, I never learned myth in class, but I liked reading it--I'm sure there are other high schoolers that this would apply to).
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

I have never encountered a packet in my coaching or playing career in quizbowl that i have thought was "too easy." Never. "Too easy" for the Dormans and St. Anselms and State Colleges of the country? Yeah of course. But for normal teams? No.

In fact i still think that the Fall Novice questions (though i haven't seen this year's) are the best high school quizbowl questions i've ever seen. Practically every one of the answers (even most of the medium and a good amount of the hard bonus answers) is very important for "quizbowl knowledge" and just regular old knowledge as well. I believe that every single HSAPQ tournament produced has been at least slightly too difficult, with the probable exception of last year's Set 11 (the pieced-together previously-VHSL sets that we used, and liked a lot, at Rider Bowl - we plan to use a similar set this year again).

I get your points, Dwight, and i know that looking at it in a broad scale it appears difficult to do. But it needs to be done, a little at a time. Teams getting 4-8 tossups correct, combined, in a game is not good. Tournaments with almost (or just about) half the teams averaging less than 10ppb is even worse.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Dwight is of course dead on about the fact that teams are being left much further behind by bad local policies. The conversion statistics will improve that much more when pyramidal quizbowl becomes the true national standard, because it will become the format that teams are used to preparing for. I have spent a lot of time in Missouri working on the grassroots level to organize tournaments and help teams improve, and in the first couple years of MOQBA there were a lot of real concerns about things like IS sets being too hard for our fields. However, in a short span of time, it became clear that once we showed teams a lot of events that were superior alternatives to the MSHSAA product, a growing group of teams decided to prioritize good quizbowl, and the teams that take this seriously have started to quickly catch up. To emphasize that point, you can look at the results from the Mizzou fall tournament from last year and this year. Both events were run on IS sets, both events had multiple top 5 teams in the state and plenty of members of the second tier, and perhaps most revealingly, both tournaments had a lot of the same players (especially Rock Bridge, Villa Duchesne, Ladue):
2009 - http://www.missouriquizbowl.com/reports ... dings.html
2010 - http://results.scobo.net/SQBS.aspx?org= ... =standings
The top of our field is greatly improved in power count and overall ppg (and anecdotally, they were playing much better in games I read for), and just as excitingly, the median of our field went from being somewhere around 130 to 150 ppg to 200 points despite us having more teams this time around. The average ppg in 2009 was ~166.03, and the average ppg in 2010 was ~184.81, which means things are heading in the right direction (that 20 points may not seem like a whole lot, but it plays out to mean there are a lot more games where a team breaks 200 points, which in my opinion is a huge step, if for no other reason than to psychologically convince teams that this is not too hard. Also, bear in mind that 16 and 18 teams are not small numbers of teams).

The lowest end of both fields seems to have not changed much, but that cannot be avoided even in the most competitive regions in America if the worst teams in a field are young, inexperienced, or do not take preparation seriously. What it seems to me we can do for these teams is simply to give them the opportunity to play much better teams, hear questions that will help direct them towards things they do learn, and hope that someone there decides to take things more seriously in the future. I also think we should figure out a way to foster an atmosphere among teams that do poorly to not get angry at the questions or the tournament, but rather to understand that there simply are teams that are better than them out there, and that they can either take the game more seriously and start winning more games or they can not become committed but will at least understand that they should not feel entitled to do well. It seems to me a big part of teams getting discouraged or hating good quizbowl is that they do not really understand that they can't both not prepare seriously for quizbowl and expect to beat teams that do prepare seriously, and us figuring out how to correct this attitude among teams will probably go a long way towards making the game more enjoyable for everyone, even if everyone is not doing well. I personally think there is absolutely nothing wrong with there being lots of low quality teams out there that play regular events and do poorly at them and drive down conversion rates, as long as those teams are themselves comfortable with the fact that they are not good quizbowl teams and are there to play and have fun and maybe learn something, and not to win titles. Fixing college canon trickle down, making good quizbowl far more widespread to give the better teams the tools to improve quickly, and coming up with a way to fix this attitude in some bad teams seem to me to be the most important 3 things we could be doing to help out the game right now, and I am unsure what else question editors can do in a wide reaching way to make the game better until we correct these things.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots »

Like Auroni said, I meant that it seems impossible to find 30 physics answers easier than Snell's law, which, before Nolan's comment, I thought was taught in pretty much every high school physics course. Nevertheless, I disagree with Charlie in that I consider it a fine tossup answer at the HS level: although Nolan seems to have had unfortunate circumstances, the responses of others in this topic confirm my impression that it's regularly taught in physics courses. While Mike is right that we shouldn't limit quizbowl to what's taught in class, surely something that's so widely taught can be an appropriate tossup answer.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Mike and Dwight are right that there is no way we can have quizbowl truly be reflective of the high school curriculum. A certain amount of the game needs to reward players who go out of their way to learn about our culture, otherwise every game would devolve into what team has more AP classes covered. What we as editors need to do is strike a balance between what is taught in classes, what parts of culture we value the most, and what we can expect smart and motivated high schoolers to actually have encountered on their own. The reason why I will not advocate a reduction in music from 1/1 but will advocate a reduction of social science from 1/1, even though they are both topics that go dead at incredibly high rates and which are not taught very often in school, is because I think that we as a society put a greater emphasis on respecting and listening to classical music than we do on learning about what social scientists write about, and that to make this game optimal for rewarding a culturally aware team we should give them more points for their knowledge of the most important music ever written over the most important social research ever conducted.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Important Bird Area »

Snell's Law: zero powers and nine 10s in the 42 rooms that heard it on IS #63A.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by AKKOLADE »

cvdwightw wrote:The only real solutions are (a) stop writing tournament sets that are more than about five packets long, (c) change the distribution to include more of "well-converted categories," which probably means doing unsavory things like increasing pop culture, (c) write on really easy things and then fill out the rest of the distribution with whatever wacky answers you want, or (d) write on really easy things and then try to extrapolate to the next level of "this isn't really easy for everyone, but it is easy for some teams." Of these, (d) is the most palatable.

Yes, we're leaving the really low-level teams behind, but there really isn't any good way not to leave these teams behind. It's not like bad local formats aren't leaving the worst teams in Illinois, Missouri, etc. behind.
False. First of all, I'm not arguing for largely increasing the pop culture distro; in fact, I don't want this to happen (especially with NAQT). However, I know that there are answer lines for tossups that are being written that are egregiously hard for about 90% of quiz bowl teams, and this needs to be limited.

A large issue that is regularly ignored is there are not sufficient resources that explicitly detail how to get better at quiz bowl. Sure, there's posts on here, but even those herded into the Best of the Best forum (which woefully needs to be updated) have very little information in them. Work - lots of great work - has been done to greatly increase the quality of questions on the high school circuit. A lot of teams have emerged as very, very talented. But there still is a lot that could be done to help inexperienced teams get better if they want to do so.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots »

Ronnie the Bear wrote:
cvdwightw wrote:The only real solutions are (a) stop writing tournament sets that are more than about five packets long, (c) change the distribution to include more of "well-converted categories," which probably means doing unsavory things like increasing pop culture, (c) write on really easy things and then fill out the rest of the distribution with whatever wacky answers you want, or (d) write on really easy things and then try to extrapolate to the next level of "this isn't really easy for everyone, but it is easy for some teams." Of these, (d) is the most palatable.

Yes, we're leaving the really low-level teams behind, but there really isn't any good way not to leave these teams behind. It's not like bad local formats aren't leaving the worst teams in Illinois, Missouri, etc. behind.
False. First of all, I'm not arguing for largely increasing the pop culture distro; in fact, I don't want this to happen (especially with NAQT). However, I know that there are answer lines for tossups that are being written that are egregiously hard for about 90% of quiz bowl teams, and this needs to be limited.

A large issue that is regularly ignored is there are not sufficient resources that explicitly detail how to get better at quiz bowl. Sure, there's posts on here, but even those herded into the Best of the Best forum (which woefully needs to be updated) have very little information in them. Work - lots of great work - has been done to greatly increase the quality of questions on the high school circuit. A lot of teams have emerged as very, very talented. But there still is a lot that could be done to help inexperienced teams get better if they want to do so.
Ok, it seems we all agree that less-knowledgable teams are struggling on regular high school questions. But what's a practical way to improve that? Dwight's made an improved version of the point I made, which is that you can only make things so easy when you have 12-15 packets to write. What would be a good way to decrease difficulty given those constraints?

In that vein, I'll say that I'd like to see more sets include tossups on multiple works by the same (famous) author. If you have a tossup on Anna Karenina, there's no reason you can't also have a tossup on War and Peace, both of which are probably easier than Dr. Zhivago. This kind of thing can, at least marginally, help writers keep difficulty under control.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by cvdwightw »

Ronnie the Bear wrote:A large issue that is regularly ignored is there are not sufficient resources that explicitly detail how to get better at quiz bowl. Sure, there's posts on here, but even those herded into the Best of the Best forum (which woefully needs to be updated) have very little information in them.
The original idea behind PACE's FQBU (as I envisioned it) was to help teams get better at the three main facets of the game: (1) writing questions, (2) running tournaments, and (3) playing quizbowl. It's not like we're intentionally ignoring it, it's just that PACE authors find other things easier to write about. I would actually really welcome any sort of "FQBU article" submissions about how to get from being a really bad team to one that can at least buzz on stuff, because again, while we can make some questions easier, there is a lower limit to how easy we can make the questions overall, and at that point the only way conversion goes up is to make the bottom teams better.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by AKKOLADE »

Cernel Joson wrote:Ok, it seems we all agree that less-knowledgable teams are struggling on regular high school questions. But what's a practical way to improve that? Dwight's made an improved version of the point I made, which is that you can only make things so easy when you have 12-15 packets to write. What would be a good way to decrease difficulty given those constraints?
Well, if you think that question writing has gotten as easy as possible (which is something I strongly disagree with, by the way), then you need to start looking at other ways to improve conversation rates. I am convinced that educating teams and coaches on how to better play quiz bowl is the key thing that's being missed.

And I agree with the multiple TU on works of the same author for helping with lit, though that still needs limits; a TU on a Shakespeare work each round would be tiring pretty quickly.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots »

Ronnie the Bear wrote:
Cernel Joson wrote:Ok, it seems we all agree that less-knowledgable teams are struggling on regular high school questions. But what's a practical way to improve that? Dwight's made an improved version of the point I made, which is that you can only make things so easy when you have 12-15 packets to write. What would be a good way to decrease difficulty given those constraints?
Well, if you think that question writing has gotten as easy as possible (which is something I strongly disagree with, by the way), then you need to start looking at other ways to improve conversation rates. I am convinced that educating teams and coaches on how to better play quiz bowl is the key thing that's being missed.

And I agree with the multiple TU on works of the same author for helping with lit, though that still needs limits; a TU on a Shakespeare work each round would be tiring pretty quickly.
I agree that outreach is something we could do a lot more of.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Stained Diviner »

Good thread here! Let me add my two cents.

Three comments that used to be repeated often on these boards but are not repeated as often now are that easy parts of bonuses need to be easy, that every bonus in every tournament needs an easy part (easy is relative to the target audience, but average high school is a wide net that includes a lot of weak/novice teams), and that tossup answers should be selected so that they will be answered. These things haven't been repeated as often in the past year because we've moved onto other issues and these issues are generally handled better now than they were several years ago, but they still need to be repeated sometimes because all writers and editors need constant reminders of these important points.

As far as changing the distribution is concerned, I generally share Charlie's opinion (and Matt's opinion) about social science questions, but that's a small part of the issue here. If you take an IS packet and remove the social science, you pretty much have an IS packet. If we're going to talk about adjusting the distribution to increase conversion in a noticeable way, then we need to talk about changing it more towards the NAQT distribution. That is, more trash, common knowledge, and pop lit; less fine arts and academic lit. Many of the people posting in this thread, myself included, have complained about these differences in the NAQT distribution. I am still hopeful that there are other ways to do it.

On the specific topic of social science, it should be a small part of the distribution. If all we're testing is to see which elite teams have memorized five Malinowski titles, which good teams have memorized one Malinowski title, which mediocre teams know that the anthropologist with the Polish name is Malinowski, and which weak teams have never heard of him, then we don't need to do that every round. I just think that this thread is addressing a larger issue.

On the specific topic of fine arts, we need to be aware that many teams are very weak in it. We should not eliminate Symphonie Fantastique from the canon, but writers need to avoid bonuses along the lines of Symphonie Fantastique/Berlioz/some hard part, because more than 10% of teams will bagel that bonus. Find a way to make either Symphonie Fantastique or Berlioz the hard part, and make sure the easy part is easy. Similarly, a tossup on Symphonie Fantastique should be at the difficult end of any list of tossups going into an average high school difficulty set, and even it should probably be adjusted to be a tossup on Berlioz or French composers or symphonies that refers to several works. Furthermore, there probably needs to be more questions where the answer is an instrument or a type of piece, and giants like Beethoven, Mozart, and Wagner need to come up often.

On the specific topic of physics, AP Physics is not offered at a lot of schools, and even where it is offered a lot of students don't take it. In schools that do not have a lot of AP courses, Physics often is a senior elective, though it is one that top students often take. Even if a student does take Physics, they generally spend the first semester on mechanics and probably won't get to things like Snell's Law until April. Things like a tossup on Snell's Law should not be off the table, but answer lines along the lines of energy, acceleration, force, Newton, Watt, momentum, electron, and so forth should come up often.

When sets due include trash or geography, writers should not be afraid to go with the obvious, since these are the biggest opportunities to write questions that have close to 100% conversion. Instead of writing a tossup on Tuscany, write one on Italy.

Another point is that Tournament Directors need to choose sets appropriate to their fields. I don't want to call out Fred, because he's awesome and because hindsight is 20/20, especially when a tournament and a circuit is getting established, but there are two sets this year designed for novice teams (Fall Novice and SCOP), and there are A Sets. Two sets is not enough to establish a circuit, but those sets should see wide usage. Also, while A Sets are not perfect, I think the criticisms of them sometimes are overstated--I think they serve a positive purpose for many tournaments.

The recent posts in this thread about outreach are correct. Let me throw out an idea here. We have regulars on this board representing pretty much every active quizbowl circuit in the country, though they generally represent a minority within their circuit. Generally, there is at least one person who has email addresses for many of the coaches in their area, and we probably could pick a person to represent their circuit. Perhaps every two or three months, somebody should post a message saying that now is a good time to email coaches in your circuit to give them some good links, provide some of those good links, and provide an article or two. It doesn't take a lot of creativity--starting out with just links to this board, quizbowlpackets, and You Gotta Know would be helpful to a lot of coaches. Every two or three months there would be a new post reminding circuit reps to email their circuit along with suggested links/articles--sometimes the suggested links might be particular threads on this board. I think a lot of coaches are really in the dark about quizbowl and don't realize the quality of resources available to them.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Kyle »

I'm a little bit surprised that nobody has yet brought up current events as a subject that one can absolutely expect to be accessible to high schoolers. I agree that one shouldn't count on high schoolers to read social science texts, but it seems like we should expect them to read the newspaper from time to time. Moreover, current events is the subject where you can gain the least amount of quizbowl-specific knowledge solely by reading old packets. Wouldn't increasing the current events distribution in high school tournaments be a plausible first step toward addressing some of the problems outlined in this thread?
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

I think NAQT already has plenty of current events in their high school product. I do agree that some other tournaments could absolutely benefit from increasing current events to some degree or another.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Kyle »

HFT, for example, has none.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Frater Taciturnus »

bt_green_warbler wrote:Snell's Law: zero powers and nine 10s in the 42 rooms that heard it on IS #63A.
I think its worth noting that 33 of these rooms were at one "tournament."

On that note, I urge anyone running NAQT tournaments to please, please send NAQT your scoresheets so that the most accurate conversion data can be available.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by MahoningQuizBowler »

Since George brought it up, if anyone has an NAQT event coming up, or if you have scoresheets from a previous one that you can part with, please PM me for my mailing address so that you can send those scoresheets to me. I handle the data entry for the conversion stats, and would greatly appreciate any work you can send my way. Thanks!
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Dresden_The_BIG_JERK »

Frater Taciturnus wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote:Snell's Law: zero powers and nine 10s in the 42 rooms that heard it on IS #63A.
I think its worth noting that 33 of these rooms were at one "tournament."

On that note, I urge anyone running NAQT tournaments to please, please send NAQT your scoresheets so that the most accurate conversion data can be available.
Is this set freed up? If yes, can someone post the question in question?

Also:
Joe N wrote:It seems that one solution to this that previous people have hinted at is simply to make sure that most-to-all regular difficulty answers come from things that we could reasonably expect a high school student to have learned in class. Maybe my view of this is distorted because I go to a magnet school with on the order of 30 AP classes, but every high schooler should take at least one year of conceptual physics at some point, and they should learn about Snell's law, angular momentum, and simple harmonic oscillation in this class. Every high schooler should take a European History class where they should study, for some examples from Charlie's GSAC list, the Great Northern War, Savonarola, Zwingli (although this is harder, we mentioned him only briefly), and the Committee of Public Safety. To be honest, if people aren't learning these, that's a problem with our educational system; they aren't especially hard or obscure.
Wow. Reinstein was right on the money as far as Physics...maybe 20-25% of seniors at my high school took it, and Snell's was covered, primarily in passing, near the very end of the year. And as far as that history list goes, well, I'm pretty sure no Winnebago graduate ever learned any of those things in a classroom. I'm primarily in agreement that every high schooler should take a European History class, but I also know that it's not even an option at a lot of schools, let alone a requirement. I know nobody is truly saying that the canon should be limited to curriculum, but this list here is far beyond what a lot of high schools teach.
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Important Bird Area »

Dresden_The_Moderator wrote:
Frater Taciturnus wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote:Snell's Law: zero powers and nine 10s in the 42 rooms that heard it on IS #63A.
I think its worth noting that 33 of these rooms were at one "tournament."
Is this set freed up? If yes, can someone post the question in question?
IS #63A, round 6 wrote:It follows from Fermat's principle and has no solution when the incident angle exceeds the critical angle, causing total (*) internal reflection. For 10 points--name this law relating the angles of incidence and refraction when light passes between media with different refractive indices.

answer: _Snell's law_
I'm not sure why George used the quotes around "tournament," since this question was used verbatim in the Minnesota state league set (and therefore this was the largest data set available for "do average hs teams know Snell's Law?")
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Re: Difficulty of "regular" high school quiz bowl

Post by Frater Taciturnus »

bt_green_warbler wrote: I'm not sure why George used the quotes around "tournament," since this question was used verbatim in the Minnesota state league set (and therefore this was the largest data set available for "do average hs teams know Snell's Law?")
Simply because I wasn't sure what "2006-07 MNHSQB League" was.
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