Lecture, notes taken, text reading: It is mid-term eve and many students have yet to feel confidently prepared for the first of two tests that will determine their all-important grade. “Where to start, what to study? ” is commonly pondered, extending the procrastination into a sleepless night as many students look at their text and a notebook full of lecture translations. A typical pattern of anxiety sets in: Denial (“I don’t have to study… “), Blaming (“That boring professor is mumbling esoteric epithets in broken English…”), and ultimately, Acceptance.
Yes, there is an exam tomorrow, and the hours left to prepare are melting away like the character melting in the first Indiana Jones1 movie – gruesomely. Somewhere in-between denial and acceptance during a panic attack, a question seems to intrude, “How does this happen? ” After the trauma of the mid-term is over for a procrastinating student and an instructor disheartened over the high number of low scores, they ask, “How does this not happen?
” The best overall answer to this question is frequent testing. This definitive answer comes from the result of years of extensive research regarding this precise issue. In a recent study, Psychologist Bruce W. Tuckman, PhD, of Ohio State University concluded, “[Frequent] tests motivate students because they create the opportunity or necessity to achieve success or avoid failure” (Tuckman).
The convenient adage, “a bunch of nothing is better than a lot of something” plainly does not apply in this matter per the findings of Dr.Herbert Rudman of Michigan State University. He reveals, “Students feel that frequent testing helps them retain more content, reduces test anxiety, and aids their own monitoring of their progress” (Rudman). With an overwhelming spectrum of evidence in favor of frequent testing at school, it would seem that a program of frequent testing would be academic but educators and students continue to be testy on this subject.
Perpetuating the problems caused by Old-School large-volume tests, included is an idea from pedagogical elitists. They proclaim that students are to learn self-management through the imposed demands of the traditional lecture, mid-term, and final format as part of a curriculum (Ironically, some of the same instructors who insist on students learning self-management via this philosophy, themselves are struggling in managing their own lives).
The fact is research shows that frequent testing would help students, as part of any curriculum, to develop positive self-management and good study habits. Additionally, teachers who have had measurement training and experience administering tests know that students regularly expecting a quiz on a reasonable amount of material, such as a test covering a textbook chapter, are able to make sense of the course material in a logical and organized manner; students are not overwhelmed and panicked.
As a student naturally improves self-management by the requirements of frequent testing, an educator can realize the usefulness of these intermediate tests; constructively given, quizzes can help teachers as an overview of what knowledge students have retained after a traditional recess (summer break) as well as help determine the pace of a class. Another problem is the idea that frequent tests take up too much class time, which supports the argument that frequent tests take away from the instructor’s lecture.
This is resolved when quizzes are implemented for instructional purposes in class. Instructors can realize greater class participation by incorporating frequent tests into their regular lecture material. Following a quiz, a student keeps his test and the answers are gone over during class, thereby providing for engagement between student and instructor. In this manner, a benefit for each studious citizen in class is the breaking of the monotony of an extensive lecture that seems to be coming from a droning C-SPAN2 telecast in another room.
Another benefit, due to an envisioned mutual interest, is a better attitude where student and instructor look forward to attending class without anathema. Classroom test reviews allow an instructor to engage with students as opposed to disengaging at them with strictly a lecture. Therefore, instead of the school of hard knocks, it is the school of hard (and illuminating) talks. One other problem is the prevalent idea that test grading is time excessive for teachers who complain as if this is a type of detention.
This is resolved because, as already mentioned, students do this in class with the instructor immediately following a quiz. The test-taker grades his test during the interactive discussion with the instructor and then turns in the graded test where the sum of these grades could equal one exam. Ulterior benefits include motivational incentives for students to make an effort toward participation in this type of program because students realize that this is an auspicious opportunity for a good exam grade and an excellent study guide for mid-terms and the up-coming final.
Infrequent testing during the course of a class has different negative effects. Under the traditional disengaged lecture and bi-test modality, teachers become standevangelists of a TV tell-you show and many students with competent intellectual ability will struggle in vertiginously processing too much information verbiaged at them; therefore, frequent testing during the course of a class will improve many facets of the teaching and learning experience for educator and student.