Learning, Innovation & Tech

Bombs & Breakthroughs

Touche' on Testing

CJ Westerberg, December 7, 2014 8:32 PM


photo credit: NJ Fencing Alliance 

"But 'broadening assessment'
should be part of
a larger teaching perspective
that enables students
. . . "
-Ellliot Seif, former professor, Temple University

Touche' on Testing
by C.J. Westerberg

So many questions about testing were sent to me from a recent pro-frequent-testing article via The New York Times.  I responded by saying that quizzes and tests are great tools in the context of teaching, if used properly.  I also understood that enough parents and educators misunderstood that lots of testing isn't the answer unless other things happen.

In the future,TNYT, please provide better context and a more nuanced "analysis" in your education articles. Bravo to former professor, Elliot Seif, for writing this letter, because you succinctly answered the void in which the article was written.  H/t to TNYT for publishing the letter in your Opinion section under Better Teaching Methods, which was the least they could do;)   Full letter below:

To the Editor:

Re "Studying for the Test by Taking It"(news analysis, Sunday Review, Nov. 23):

Quizzes are certainly an important way to increase student learning. But "broadening assessment" should be part of a larger teaching perspective that enables students to frequently repeat and deepen learning.

In addition to quizzes, teachers might structure short self-reflections at the beginning of lessons, end-of-lesson summary opportunities, frequent times for questions during lectures, interesting-discussion opportunities, note-taking lessons, authentic learning experiences and other strategies that encourage repeated and extended learning, gradual student understanding and the accumulation of knowledge and skills over time.

Philadelphia, Nov. 23, 2014

The writer is a former professor of education at Temple University.

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