Rethinking Testing

I read a question that was subject a Weblogg-ed blog: When Are We Going to Stop Giving Kids Tests That They Can Cheat On?

My first reaction to this question was: When we create a better type of assessment!  Which got me to thinking, what kind of skills are we measuring into today’s tests?  When you think of tests, you think of a paper-based assessment where your performance on the exam determines how well you have mastered the content.  Sounds good, right?   Now, there is a foundational level of knowledge that everyone should know without looking it up.  Students should at minimum know this kind of basic knowledge to have something to refer back to and build upon for more advanced concepts, but let’s think about the students of today.

In today’s society, students have access to all kinds of information and are resourceful enough to figure out where it is located.  Kids cheat by using those same skills to find the information they need to meet the requirements of the assignment.  Now, I’m not advocating cheating at all and in no way am I a proponent of it, but it seems to me the skills we consider cheating are just the skills students carry these days.  Instead using older models of assessment, maybe we need to rethink how we assess students and why students cheat in the first place?  What is their goal with cheating?  Do we need to evaluate our own teaching methods based on the student’s goals with cheating?

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One Response to “Rethinking Testing”

  1. I think that your are exactly right. Students need to apply their knowledge to a different situation in order to show they have mastered the content. A pencil test just shows that they can either cheat well or regurgitate what you told them well. I’m all for a project as a test assessment for class, but I am also not sure how to accomplish that. I also have some students in my class that won’t do any problems that require thinking. for instance, they skip all the word problems and take a bad grade and don’t care. I also had a students that wouldn’t do a webquest I had them do because it was about the history of famous mathematicians and not numbers. I have a lot of students that even turn in tests blank because they don’t care about their grade or whether they pass because they plan to quit school when they are sixteen or eighteen anyways. How do you assess that? Sorry to ramble about my problems, it has been a rough week.


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