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The Blue & Gray Press | August 18, 2019

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How the education program changed my perspective on testing

How the education program changed my perspective on testing


I never understood why test taking was a good assessment of knowledge. Everyone complained about them, and I didn’t think that they helped me learn.  I always thought that projects were a better assignment for the end of the year rather than a test.

In college, I tell my professors that I can distinctly remember a project that I made in middle school, but I can’t remember the content of a test that I took that same year. I never understood the point of test taking until I joined the education program at UMW. Now, instead of just having the student perspective, I now was learning the teacher’s perspective.

 In my education class I learned the term summative assessment. Summative assessment is to evaluate student’s learning at the end of a unit or a semester, then the results are usually compared to standard. In high school, teachers would test and teach material that was similar to the SOL. However, that does not mean that teachers have to teach to the test. It is the responsibility of the teacher to meet the standards while expanding on the material and concepts.

This can be similar to testing in college. While students are not taking the SOLs at the collegiate level, the professors still have objectives and standards that the students are required to meet. A lot of professors usually have a midterm test and a final. Even though the tests are stressful, these assessments are important. A professor is able to see what concepts students got or did not understand. That way a teacher can go back or move forward. There are many ways that a professor can test assessment.

I learned that different types of questions on exams do different things. When a professor has on the exam a short answer or essay, it is called constructed response. This allows students to reflect on topics and write it in a concise response. When there are multiple-choice questions, they are meant to force students to recall information quickly. They are not meant to expand on a student’s critical thinking.  

Now, I see the importance of written assessment. Assessment is as important to students as teachers. The professors can use it as a way to test what the students learned from the course. One of my teachers in high school took notes on the most missed questions. My teacher would then go back over the summer and look at those notes to fine tune the lesson plan. If most students did not do well on a one section, the teacher would spend more time teaching that section.

Being in the teaching program, I’ve learned to think about curriculum and the different assessments from the perspective of the professor. This has helped me to become more understanding and sympathetic to the professors and teachers.