22 May 2007

A successful test

I wrote and gave my first test last week. When I was a student taking tests, I never really thought about the work and the philosophy behind test-making. I just thought they were a colossal waste of my time, especially at the university level. After having given a test, I think testing is a colossal waste of time. I had students take a 30 point test that was very, very easy, based on only the most basic ideas from our first 5 units. Two of six of my students failed, one of them only answering 7 of the questions.

They will all, ultimately, pass the course as it is built primarily around attendance. So it got me thinking, why test in the first place? Or maybe, more important, what is a successful class?

I think a successful class (or education) is one that lets you practice on a small scale what you need to be successful in whatever it is that you are being trained for. That's the problem with Japanese education (among a myriad of other things). It trains you to succeed on a test only. The goal is false because in real life, there aren't any tests. You have to think and problem solve and all that jazz. I think to the extent that a test can do that, cool. But if I'm just having kids fill in blanks with words they memorized? I'd rather just jump off the boat.
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