Binder Events

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Re: Binder Events

Post by Umaroth » September 4th, 2019, 6:03 pm

chalker wrote:
September 4th, 2019, 5:54 pm
2. Likewise, any type of binder / page limitation puts certain teams at a disadvantage. For example, what if a participant has poor eyesight? They can't read <5 point fonts like many kids can, meaning they are able to squeeze less information on the same sheet of paper.

3. Allowing large binders generally forces supervisors to create better written exams. Far too many supervisors in the past reused questions or exams from year to year, again, putting certain competitors who had seen them in the past at an advantage. But, by knowing that teams are likely to bring copies of old tests and answer keys in their binders, event supervisors should realize they need to craft new questions and exams each year.
I am not a fan of binders due to their unwieldiness, but I do admit these are two very good reasons in favor of binders. I can confirm that my eyesight is poor, and reading size 5 font and below is a struggle. The smallest my Dynamic Planet and Meteorology notes ever got were size 6, but only by the time nationals came; most of the year I had size 7 font. That being said, having binders is a decent burden on competition day. I am planning on trying out for six events, five of which are binder events, so that will be quite painful.
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Re: Binder Events

Post by JoeyC » September 4th, 2019, 6:19 pm

I see your points, however at high levels quite a bit of the questions can be reliably answered without having to use notes once you reach a high enough skill level, therefore mostly ridding the use of binders at higher levels (unless the test were to ask many obscure questions and detract from the spirit of the event, something that will hopefully not happen)

On the other hand, on lower, lesser known invites (usually hosted by schools, but also those hosted by some colleges... and even some regionals :cry: ) there are, sadly a ton of somewhat reused questions (there is, after all, only so many original questions one can ask if the test writer in question isn't too knowledgeable on the topic, which can occur quite often at non-major invites).
While this is a problem that is encountered with or without binders, it is further aggravated by that that with binders there is nothing stopping teams from literally just putting as many tests and answer keys as possible in their binders, which somewhat dilutes actual results. (Seriously, it is annoying when you lose out to a team because you missed 2 questions, and the other team just conveniently had the entire answer key.

Plus, binders are a hassle to transport and use.

In summation: at high levels of competition, binders do not affect the competition much outside of influencing out-of-spirit tests, and at low levels they dilute results and interfere with accurate evaluations of competitor ability, in addition to being bulky and hassles to transport - further if many of these are 2 inch binders rather than 1 inch binders.

(of course, this is in respect to events such as Machines, DP, and Density - not ID events where they serve a large function)
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Re: Binder Events

Post by AlfWeg » September 4th, 2019, 6:48 pm

JoeyC wrote:
September 4th, 2019, 6:19 pm
(of course, this is in respect to events such as Machines, DP, and Density - not ID events where they serve a large function)

Thermo was the old Machines...and the binder didn't mess up the event. It was mainly used for history and formulas. What else is the binder for? Tests were still hard and, in my opinion. still high quality. There wasn't really competitions where I would say having a binder shifted the balance. Also, Machines also has history, so I would say there is a major need for a binder. I ain't memorizing history
JoeyC wrote:
September 4th, 2019, 6:19 pm

Seriously, it is annoying when you lose out to a team because you missed 2 questions, and the other team just conveniently had the entire answer key.
Teams that have the entire answer key...there is only one reason to do that, and it's exactly what u implied. Having a few harder questions copied into the binder I might understand, but storing tests in a binder is just bad sportsmanship. But do we wanna cater to them....
JoeyC wrote:
September 4th, 2019, 6:19 pm
Plus, binders are a hassle to transport and use
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Re: Binder Events

Post by NSCDS3RdCaptain » September 4th, 2019, 7:06 pm

I would have to disagree. In most of my experience with Thermo, most tests were from test banks or from past tests whose answer keys could easily be found and put in a binder.
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Re: Binder Events

Post by whalesc » September 4th, 2019, 7:30 pm

Personally, I'm someone who likes binder events over note sheets and I feel like I enjoy binder events more. One reason is that I find it binder events easier, but I also find them a lot less stressful. When you're limited to a page, a large percentage of the effort (at least for me) goes into random formatting and making everything as small as possible. With binder events, I do more practice tests and finding and retrieving information than organizing it (though you still have to spend time tabbing a binder). For me, it is also a lot easier and less intimidating to add onto a binder than it is to add onto a size 6 font block of text.

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Re: Binder Events

Post by dxu46 » September 4th, 2019, 8:17 pm

I was talking with someone a few days ago about my Rocks and Minerals binder, and I think there were a few key takeaway points that I gleaned:
- If you make your own binder by hand (no copy pasting), you know everything in your binder, rendering the usage moot.
- With a binder event, it's better to have a bunch of vague stuff you might need because you should have the easy stuff memorized and should only use your binder if you don't know stuff (this was my dilemna, I concluded that because I handmade my binder almost two years ago, I know everything, and I will just print out wikipedia articles/etc. next year)
- The previous point is even more applicable in ID events, where speed is probably the most important thing. For events like Machines, I'm not sure if this applies, since speed isn't as important as answering questions correctly (IMO) but I speak from ID experience

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Re: Binder Events

Post by Unome » September 4th, 2019, 9:10 pm

dxu46 wrote:
September 4th, 2019, 8:17 pm
For events like Machines, I'm not sure if this applies, since speed isn't as important as answering questions correctly
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(It usually isn't except on particularly difficult tests, but honestly the same is true for all events, including ID events)
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Re: Binder Events

Post by EastStroudsburg13 » September 5th, 2019, 5:13 am

chalker wrote:
September 4th, 2019, 5:54 pm
As one of the key people behind the scenes pushing for more 'binders', I can tell you that there are several key reasons:

1. Any type of binder / page limitation puts a significant burden on the event supervisor to check ever team's resource. And no matter what language we use, it seems there are always ambiguities / confusion. For example, we used to say in certain events, something like "1 page of double sided notes" And then we started having issues with teams without easy access to a printer capable of printing in duplex printing 2 single-sided sheets and gluing them back to back - that meets the spirit but does it meet the letter of the rules? And what if the team laminates their single sheet of notes? Is that allowable? What about if they cut out small sections of notes from other sheets and glue that to a single sheet instead of writing directly on it? etc. etc.

2. Likewise, any type of binder / page limitation puts certain teams at a disadvantage. For example, what if a participant has poor eyesight? They can't read <5 point fonts like many kids can, meaning they are able to squeeze less information on the same sheet of paper. Ditto for teams that have easy access to scanners / desktop publishing software, that could potentially scan in a lot of info and lay it out in an optimal fashion, vs. teams that might need to physically cut and paste notes. Or what about teams that might be able to afford super lightweight and thin paper, that would allow them to squeeze more sheets of paper into a 2" binder than those using normal paper? etc. etc.

3. Allowing large binders generally forces supervisors to create better written exams. Far too many supervisors in the past reused questions or exams from year to year, again, putting certain competitors who had seen them in the past at an advantage. But, by knowing that teams are likely to bring copies of old tests and answer keys in their binders, event supervisors should realize they need to craft new questions and exams each year.

Hence, does Density Lab or Sounds of Music really need a large binder? Probably not. But do the reasons for permitting them far outweigh the reasons for prohibiting them? Probably so.
I think 3 is the most convincing point here. For 1, there's always going to be ambiguities no matter how clear or open you make the rules, so I don't know that simply allowing binders solves this. You'll get questions like "what constitutes a binder", "what can be placed in a binder", etc. If you always plan for fringe cases, you'll never find a true solution. For 2, I've always found that it's often not better to cram as much info on the sheet as possible. If you know your stuff, teams should never feel required to go below 6pt or so. As for squeezing more sheets of paper into a binder, that just seems like a silly concern to me; if you're struggling to fit pages into a 2" binder, maaaaybe you just have too much stuff and you can probably get rid of 50% of that.

Now, assuming 3 is accurate, I think it's the only point here that would actually convince me. The reuse of questions is definitely a concern. However, there are several cases of questions being reused in binder events already (bio ID events, Astro, etc), and in the case of below-par event supervisors, I fear that they won't actually consider the fact that teams might have tests or questions in their binders. But, if it turns out to work, I'll happily concede.

Ultimately I don't think it's going to be easily determined if adding more binder events actually improves anything. If supervisors improve, is it because more events are binder events, or is it because SO is doing a better job of finding higher quality supervisors? Not an easy question to answer, and it'll be hard to find evidence in favor of or opposed to increasing the use of binders. I still think I lean towards the side of less binders.
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Re: Binder Events

Post by UTF-8 U+6211 U+662F » September 5th, 2019, 12:31 pm

Umaroth wrote:
September 4th, 2019, 6:03 pm
That being said, having binders is a decent burden on competition day. I am planning on trying out for six events, five of which are binder events, so that will be quite painful.
Small counterpoint: I had a bunch of binder events for Regionals last year, and I just put them in a box. It was super easy to carry around (more convenient than I thought it would be), I could put other supplies in like rulers, pencils, and calculators, and I could go directly from one event to another instead of stopping back at home base.

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Re: Binder Events

Post by JoeyC » September 5th, 2019, 3:45 pm

Almost every invitational I've gone to has reused questions on at least one of its events, quite often more (around half if not more of their study/lab events will have them).
Furthermore, diagrams - most questions involving labeling diagrams use existing diagrams and blur out the labels (e.g. the Wilson cycle, Combustion Engine, etc.).
While changing up diagrams could be done easily to deter some teams from just having the same diagram on their notes, it'll be a lot harder to do that if teams have access to a much greater amount of diagrams.
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