Tests and Grading
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Quizzes, Tests, Exams
Coming up with the best way to assess your students efforts and accomplishments in the course can be difficult. With well-defined course goals and objectives the job is easier. Assessments provide both you and your students with important feedback about what has been taught and what has been learned.
Use this section to explore ways to motivate your students, measure their progress and reinforce their learning.
Writing Multiple-Choice Questions That Demand Critical Thinking
Grades have been used to measure the worth, merit and value of student work. They have been used to motivate students to do their best in courses. Grades are a form of feedback for students and teachers and often seen as a reward and punishment system.
How you grade depends on what you determine as the purpose of grades within your teaching philosophy. Being clear regarding your grading system and the criteria you will use to judge student work is essential.
A Method for Grading Essays in Any Course
Pop Quizzes Students Like
Resources for Rubrics:
Grading with Rubrics: Developing a Fair and Efficient Assessment Tool
Rubrics for Web Lessons
Guidelines for Rubric Development
Allaying Test Anxiety
How you prepare students for the kind of assessments in your course will often determine how anxious they become before a testing situation. Give them the information and examples they need to clarify your expectations. Ask questions in class that reflect the rigor of the questions they will be asked on quizzes and exams. Let them practice on less threatening short quizzes and homework assignments so that the way you test is no surprise. You can reduce students' anxiety and improve their performance by taking care in how you prepare students for an exam, how you administer and return the test, and how you handle makeup tests. (For more information see Barbara Gross Davis's Tools for Teaching.)
Preventing Academic Dishonesty
The best way to prevent academic dishonesty is to educate your students about what is considered plagiarism and cheating. Whenever possible design your assessments in way that makes it impossible to cheat (for example: alternative versions of the test, tests in which concepts and principles are applied to individual projects and situations, student portfolios).
Be sure your students understand the consequences of cheating and plagiarism and the range of software available now to detect work that has been copies . (For more information see Barbara Gross Davis's Tools for Teaching.)
Getting More "Teaching" out of "Testing" and "Grading"
"Assessment can actually be one of your greatest teaching tools and a way to connect with your students, but this requires rethinking the role of assessment in your course."
The posting below looks at "forward-looking" assessment and how it can play an important role in your classes. It is by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., in the Psychology department at Stanford University.
The Case for Common Examinations
"Providing a continuing occasion for faculty inquiry and discussion, insuring grade comparability across classes, making instructors more reflective about their grading practices, dampening the effects of grade inflation, and encouraging students to be more intentional about their curricular choices-these are significant benefits of common examinations that far outweigh the increased time and effort required of faculty."
Lloyd Bond, senior scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching makes a strong case for the use of common examinations for all sections of a course as a powerful form of assessment as well as a fruitful context for faculty deliberations about their goals for students.