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Scrap the exams from the education system?

Discussion in 'Education' started by ephyjones, Nov 30, 2016.

  1. ephyjones

    ephyjones New Member

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    We all dreaded that time of the year when exams were around the corner. I have been out of school for around ten years now, and I bet you there are somethings I did in exams that up to date I never found real life application for. In my chemistry lessons there was something called the mole concept, which I never use. The sad thing is that it was one the hardest topic and made almost 70% of my exam.

    Why teach one thing in class then during exam day bring something totally different. They make one look like a failure even after spending all those years studying. In my opinion scrap all the exams and let pupils acquire applicable knowledge.
     
  2. MA Fresia

    MA Fresia New Member

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    Yes, there are probably a great many things graduates will never use in everyday life or in a particular career path. The object of general education in K-12, and in college, is to provide as well-rounded an education to the student as possible within the limits of time, and across and within college majors. The higher one goes in education, the more specialized it becomes. At secondary and post-secondary levels, it is still fairly broad. It is sort of the core "what every student should know" approach.

    It sounds like you didn't receive a standardized test. Exams are standardized in some cases, in the typical multiple-choice format, but some professors want to see application of knowledge to novel problems. Some give open-ended questions to assess mastery. It's possible your professor was looking for the latter-- either that or it was simply an unfair test. I know of some college professors who would give novel material on a test when the material had not been covered in class, and then grade on a curve. The results might have been interesting from their point of view, but it didn't help with student test anxiety or GPA weighting. I think with tests like that, you have to go for it with what you know, and try, if you can, to have a little fun with it. You can always have a good laugh about what you don't know if you keep your sense of humor. Try not to sweat it and feel like a failure. You are more than your GPA after all. Granted, it's easier said than done when the future may hinge on how well we do as reflected in grades and averages, but it's a healthy thing to not live life on someone else's measuring stick. Tests are snapshots, not panoramas of performance. No one can capture the sum total of your intelligence on a single test, or even repeated tests. Our IQ is increasing as long as we are alive and breathing.

    If you ever face a similar situation again, you might consider talking to the professor and discussing options for make ups, or if the test was in fact unfair, of having it reviewed by the education board. If there are transcripts and copies of the test, you might still be able to go back and do that. I know that Pearson in the US had their metrics reviewed several decades after administering them to schools nationwide, and the review is still a subject of discussion and research in learning theory, so those third grade standardized tests are still out there generating thought and debate. It's never too late to revisit.
     
  3. ptahm22

    ptahm22 New Member

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    According to me school is a stage. Everything that happens to you in a certain stage doesn't have to have any benefits in the next stage. The exam is a test and sometimes we have to think outside the box. There are a lot of things you are supposed to do during school to make sure you don't have a hard time during exams. To pass a stage you must complete all the requirements even though they don't make sense.
     
  4. MA Fresia

    MA Fresia New Member

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    There are schools and methods which have done away with exams in the sense of a pass-fail model. They are mastery based, and although there are tests, they are not used to fail students. They are used as indicators of where more teaching and development should occur. The Montessori School is one example. The developmental model ensures that every child succeeds.
     
  5. triforceguy1

    triforceguy1 New Member

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    I would agree that exams should be scrapped, but for different reason from what most have stated. In a way, it is actually a very unfair way to test students. Every single person is different from another, which means different people learn in different ways. Some students will do well in examinations, and others do not.

    I, personally, don't do the best during examinations due to my dyspraxia (which I have finally had diagnosed), so taking exams doesn't really highlight the best of my abilities.
     
  6. MA Fresia

    MA Fresia New Member

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    I agree. Every student is different and standardized tests never capture what a given student really knows or is capable of. Mastery-based systems tend to be better at allowing cognitive development and application of knowledge to occur naturally. Rather than teaching test taking behavior, mastery based systems keep things like portfolios of class work and projects. They track time on task and note when the student completes milestone activities on a levelled skills inventory. They are not "tests" in any sense. They are just developmental milestones. The tutor has the agenda to some extent, but the student determines the pace. There is no pressure to "pass" or to get the highest score in the class so you can be admitted to the "top" echelons of anything. There is no top. There are only imperfectly delineated continuums and fulcrums of development. The object is to achieve mastery of the subject matter presented in the student's own way and time with the tutor as the observer and guide, and to follow the student in many ways because there is an inherent intelligence in everyone that can master absolutely anything if it is supported as opposed to battered by preconceived notions.

    There are some students who achieve all of the milestones in class work on a daily basis, but if you sit them down to test, they bomb. It's test anxiety, not their ability that is measured. The opposite is also true. There are students who are expert test takers. They pass the tests, but do not really have an understanding of the material at all. They would not be able to apply knowledge or explain concepts. We don't want measures of test taking behavior. We want measures of mastery, comprehension, application.

    Consider really simple things. I take it for granted that I know what a dog is. How do I really know if I understand the concept of a dog? If I can explain what a dog is to someone who does not know, who has never seen a dog, perhaps that is one indication. It is a mammal with four legs, a tail, a fur coat, and it barks. It is different from the four-legged mammals that have a tail and meow, and quite different from the four-legged giant cats that roar. In mastery-based systems we help students build concepts. Mastery-based systems are a matter of scaffolding and building up, not bull dozing, pressure cooking, and gunning to tear anyone down or create a false elitism. Everyone can achieve in a mastery-based environment. Success is a foregone conclusion, but it requires sensitivity to the timing of development, and the readiness of each student. Those are variables. Socialization is another one. But the most important thing to take away from anything approaching pedagogy is there is no such thing as failure. Mastery based systems don't process people like cattle through a chute and label them as successes or failures. There is no such thing as "I failed algebra," or "I never understood chemistry." You simply find the right materials, the right style of learning, the right environment and setting and you keep going until you know what there is to know about the subject.

    Students are much happier and have the opportunity to develop a love of learning that way. They find every area of knowledge accessible then. There are no road blocks like there are in some public education systems where if you don't get it in 280 days, it's over and you're graded poorly, and all there is to show for it is a report card that is wrongly internalized as a lasting self image. If you "weren't good in school," then from a master teacher's point of view, the school wasn't good enough. You need better tutors and a better system that produces mastery for every child no matter how long it takes, or what tools it takes.

    Master teachers can teach any student at any level. To bring up Einstein again as an example, he "failed" arithmetic according to many biographers. So what does that tell us about our misinterpretation of test results and mislabelling? It would have been more accurate to say that he was developing skills in arithmetic, or that the communication between tutor and student was not fully developed. We don't know everything we know in a vaacumm with nothing and no one around us. Transmission has to take place. "Grades" often tell us more about the quality of the transmission than about so-called performance or capacities of the student. How good is the teacher? You often hear that in college. "I had a math teacher I could not understand. I was 'failing.' I changed instructors and I was fine. I got it." There is a dynamic to account for. There are the old and widely known learning styles to account for (visual, auditory, kinesthetic). There are multiple intelligences developing at differing rates (verbal, spatial, fluid, socio-emotional). We do not have "failure" now and "success" later. We have development now in this area, at this level, and later we have it at another.

    There are too many variables to label anyone as a failure in anything. It is all the road to success as long as you stay on the road. You will find the right materials, the right tutor, the right environment. We should not measure against one another, but against our own goals and objectives for understanding and application. I want to understand algebra. How do I know when I have understood it? What will I be able to do? Does that require reference to the knowledge base and to a core standard? Yes. But not to other students. I do not need to know my peers' test scores to determine whether I can solve the equation and arrive at the answer listed in the answer key. Furthermore, if I am truly seeking an understanding, I will want to explore different answers, "wrong" answers, concepts, methods and all the whys and wherefores of the subject. Answers not found in the answer keys are opportunities to explore. Forget right and wrong. Forget the clock watching. Why and how are the questions that allow for understanding. If a student says 2 + 2 = 9 a master teacher never says "That is wrong." A master teacher says, "Show me. Tell me more. How did you arrive at your conclusion?" We do not jump to the conclusion that the student "failed" to understand numeracy and we don't focus on the math fact until we understand the student at their level of development. After we understand how the student sees and understands, we can visit the truth of the math fact and all of its presumptions. But it is always a question. How does the student understand numeracy? How does the student understand conventional operations? We make presumptions about all of that. We have to know that we do that to be good teachers. We have to be aware of our presumptions and always on the lookout for some new revelation that might change them. If Einstein's teachers had been so humble we might have gotten the theory of relativity sooner. Maybe E=mc^2 might have been formulated in elementary school. Who knows?

    There is a saying I often think of in relation to recognizing intelligence in others. It is that we cannot recognize in others any intelligence higher than that which we possess ourselves. So in the case of an Einstein or any other student, if a child does have abilities or faculties beyond the teacher, how would it be reflected? If Einstein was thinking in terms at that age that were beyond the curriculum, there would be no way to measure that. A "failing grade" could mean "I don't understand you," or it could mean "I'm so far beyond you that you cannot communicate easily with me." We have to forever be humble enough and open enough to allow others to know things we may not be aware that they know, and may not be able to measure. We can presume to know what we know but we can't ever presume to know it all.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017

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