Students Should Be Tested More, Not Less
“Testing is terrible for learning”. This often repeated saying has become accepted as true without proof. Opposition to testing and its associated ills has led to an over-generalization of the word “test” and an unjustifiable reputation as the personification of all that is wrong with education.
Henry Roediger, a cognitive psychologist at Washington University, compared test results of students who used common study methods — reading material, highlighting, and writing notes — with the results from students repeatedly tested on the same material. Roediger found that taking a test on material can have a greater positive effect on future retention of that material than spending an equivalent amount of time restudying it. Remarkably, this remains true “even when performance on the test is far from perfect and no feedback is given on missed information.”
Some tests, however, are more effective in eliciting this positive effect than others. Standardized tests, like IQ tests, are designed to measure developed knowledge or abilities. They are “summative,” as they measure students’ sum total knowledge or ability at a fixed point in time. Summative tests are not intended to shape future teaching. “Formative assessments,” on the other hand, are designed to discover what students do and do not know in order to shape teaching. They are not meant to simply measure knowledge, but to expose gaps in knowledge so teachers may adjust future instruction accordingly. At the same time, students are alerted to these gaps, which allows them to shape their efforts to learn the information they missed.
Roediger asserts that educators ought to be using formative assessments early and often in the classroom to strengthen learning throughout the unit rather than waiting until the end and giving a summative assessment.
((FROM: http://www.theatlantic.com. Acesso: 28/01/2014. Adapted.)