"What's wrong with an old fashioned close book in class test?" My questions would be: 1. Why teach to testing when it is so productive to teach to Learning ? and 2. What is RIGHT with "an old fashioned close book in class test?
Here are my answers.
1. test anxiety/anxieties? And the implications and consequences of test anxieties for those who are so disabled or disadvantaged ? Or otherwise disadvantaged/challenged for that matter?
2. unequals being forced into an egalitarian situation in which those who are ahead already have an advantage over those who are already and have long been behind?
3. emphasis upon what the expert (and sometimes not-so-expert) teacher thinks or believes is important that students must memorize or respond to ?
4. that LEARNING takes time and repetition and practice in a safe place --- and thus the emphasis on learning for comprehensions and LONG-TERM retention requires FREQUENCY, interaction, time on task, opportunity to formulate, exchange ideas, rewrite, add in new considerations which have accumulated through time?
5. that testing in the classroom is time and place focused --- how many factors regarding traffic, financial worries, job requirements, illness, child sick, spouse in a furor, medical emergency, just getting fired or demoted, and so on, can incapacitate a learner's ability to function at peak performance and show the teacher his or her BEST stuff?
What is WRONG with the test is number five on the bubble.sheet: all-of-the-above.
What results from tests is a numerical spread that labels and emphasizes the numbers rather than learning.
Beyond that, the A thru F can be skewed in order to create the acceptable curve, thereby demonstrating beyond doubt that the purpose of testing is to create GRADES ---- NOT to encourage learning --- unless of course one believes that FEAR is the best motivator for humans, and that the highest goal in learning is to spit back facts, dates, names, authors, titles and numbers. Bloom shudders, Mazlow too.
And while some folks suggest that the Arts and Humanities are warm and fuzzy while the sciences and socio behavioral sciences are FACT-RIDDEN --- I would point out that there are as many facts in ceramics, as many concepts and theories in religions, and as much vocabulary and nomenclature in theater and film as any of the so called Hard Sciences --- which after all are HUMAN CREATED constructs with ever-evolving foundations too. What is wrong with tests Ask the question about What is wrong with tests to the learners/students in YOUR courses --- and let them post ANONYMOUS answers
I do not focus 0n Point Estimates and Point Accumulation, nor Statistics and averages, nor measuring the current group of learners against former groups of learners. The demographics have changed. Each learner is a unique human being and it is MY responsibility to try and help that person move as far, fast and completely into topical and lifelong learning as is possible for each of them.
The only thing that interests me, since I am required to post grades, is a comparison between where the learner is upon entering the class and where that learner has moved to at the end of the semester. that is why I have everything out in public, on the threaded conference system which has been adopted for Northern Arizona University, and then developed through three years and summers.
Learners in the courses I offer WRITE intensively --- they have fifteen writing assignments on a learning stairway (Escalator) and they each do one per week: they MUST read each others work and respond with substance to at least TEN writings by other learners PER WEEK, and they MUST stay current in order to keep the A which I award each of them at the beginning of the semester.
What I do see is that the course mates can smell laziness, and chide and push each other into action.
In the process of the semester, they start with the first steps which are reasonably easy, while each week an additional consideration is added --- it becomes ever more challenging, and three hundred learners on line RISE to the occasion and help pull each other along.
They are engaged in practice and REHEARSAL ---We are all for that in our team sports, or learning of skills: why should it be any different with academic subjects ???
The learners are actually MUCH harder on each other than I am; they sense procrastination, and outright foot dragging and they get VOCAL about it online. When the skeptical learners get sucked into the process and see how much they are learning, how much they may use their creativity, and how much FUN it is to engage in creative/critical thinking and analysis, they move ahead like gangbusters.
The end-of-course and post-course followup evaluations give a clear answer to "What's wrong with an old fashioned close book in class test?"
About the Author
Dr.Guy Bensusan, is Senior Faculty Associate for Interactive Television, NAUNet, and Professor of Humanities & Religious Studies. He has had over 50 years teaching experience, 15 of which have been in varied Distance Learning arenas. More information about Dr. Bensusan's methodologies may be found at: http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~hgb/drguy.html and the Virtual Conference Center: http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~caucus/nauovcc.html
Dr. Bensusan may be reached at: NAU Box 5676, Flagstaff, AZ 86011-5676 voice:520-523-9146; FAX 520-523-9146 firstname.lastname@example.org