My weekly share this week is a little more on the simple side and away from the strategic level, but equally important. I see a lot of tests go through my servers (thousands and FSS sees more!) so I’ve always been worried about how they’re used. Everybody’s always worried about fraud, but I’m more worried about application. It’s a commonly held tenet in K-12 that extensive standardized testing is counterproductive to the mission of education. I’m inclined to agree as well when I look at online higher ed. There’s just no guarantee your student doesn’t have the book out or doesn’t have their friend taking it and frankly you can get the same assessment data with more authentic projects and activities. As an professor that deals with instructional technology, I’m sure you have similar experience.
Where auto-scoring assessments truly shine, and I mean shine, is self-check activities. You set up the expectation that students take the quiz prior to getting started on their other assessments (it’s as simple as making the visibility of all other assignments for a week contingent upon completion of the exam) and then they get feedback on where they stand in regards to that week’s learning objectives before they even have to do something graded. That gives them the opportunity to go back to their learning resources and review.
“All well and good,” I often hear faculty say, “but what about rigorous questions?” Well, the resource I want to share is an answer to that question. This piece was shared with me by a colleague and it’s a good item to disseminate to your faculty (or review for yourself) if you’re interested in higher order thinking questions for quizzes at your institution. Rigor, after all, is not how hard we’re making students work, but how hard we’re making them think.