Questions In Tests
Do I turn over?
Do I write the questions out?
I don’t know this answer
But we haven’t learned about the lesser spotted wurble beast…
I think I spent more time in yesterday’s test getting up and down to answer these kinds of questions than I did marking. Like all of us teachers, time is at a premium so this was more than a little frustrating. I dealt with it in my usual way, by writing. Yes, slowly and painfully and no, my arm’s not better yet.
The questions, inane as they seem, are symptoms of a more general problem – one that arguably I’ve contributed to. They tell me that the kids don’t really get the point of a test. They don’t appreciate why they are doing it. They aren’t making a clear distinction between lessons, when questions are expected and encouraged, and tests which are intended to, well, test.
Are we taking too much for granted? Maybe I’m expecting too much of my students, not in terms of their content knowledge, but in their understanding of why we test them at all. So what can we do about it?
Well, I’m going to start with this particular test. I’ll leave one question unmarked, and we’ll go through the rest, modelling the process, before peer marking that one. This will lead to a discussion of lessons vs tests, both in terms of what we write down and what I can do to support them. I tend to find sporting or musical performance analogies help in these kinds of situations.
This will also reinforce the need for good questions *in* lessons, and notes that make sense even *after* a lesson. Hopefully it will be a chance to discuss how to improve answers depending on the purpose and context of the question.
Finally, I’m planning to have my students generate a FAQ list based on our summaries. By putting it in their own words I’ll provide a structure they can engage with, as well as setting up a format for future tests where I list common issues with a specific question or query. We’ll see how it goes.
Briefly: yes, I know I’ve not blogged much. I’ve also been quiet on twitter. Despite a minor fracture, I’m hoping to get back online now and I’m sorry for neglecting the electronic staffroom over the past few months of a new job, illness and general incompetence.
Filed under: teaching | 4 Comments