[sill: Re: [Tutor] help ;-)]

Andrei Kulakov ak@silmarill.org
Fri, 19 Oct 2001 08:03:26 -0400

On Fri, Oct 19, 2001 at 12:44:05PM +0100, alan.gauld@bt.com wrote:
> > I agree with most of your post. 
> Me too, but less than you maybe :-)
> > ... tests are a big mistake. It
> > does encourage the students to try to "get by" 
> > with as little as possible. 
> I'm not sure I agree that tets per se are bad.
> What I don't like is the current trend to 
> multi-choice tests which can be passed in theory 
> by pure luck! Especially when out of 5 choices 
> there will usually be at least 1 that's obviously 
> dumb, another that's dumb with even basic 
> understanding - which leaves a 30% chance of 
> getting it right. Not much of a test.

I first studied in Russia, where there were no multiple-choice tests, then
in US where they're abundant. In my experience, both approaches are just
as bad. In fact, the Russian tests are even worse, because they annoy
students more, while there isn't any win as far as knowledge is concerned.

> Good tests, which really do test understanding 
> mimic the real world which is full of tests:
> "Here's a deadline, if you don't meet it you're 
> fired and if you do meet it and it doesn't work 
> then you're still fired."

Students in schools would *love* to be fired from the school. Many of
them, anyway. The trouble is, if you fail the test, you aren't fired,
you're just scolded, if that.

I think it should be like this: kids should be taught basic reading and
how to use calculator. Then they're told: come back when you want to learn

> That survival ethic has to be taught to kids somehow 
> and tests are a relatively gentle way of doing it.

They are gentle, but they're not teaching survival. You survive just as
well if you cheated or failed, you come to the same school, you don't get
any pay cut, etc. If tests have a lesson, it is that failing at your task
isn't much different from succeeding.

> After all the important part of any education 
> system is not the imparting of knowledge but the 
> training in new behavioural patterns - the habits 
> of effective study, the ability to crystalize and 
> communicate ideas, the efficient and focused achievement 
> of goals etc.

Of any education system but this world's.

> Just my 2 cents,
> alan g.
> PS Shouldn't this discussion be on the edu-sig 
> mailing list rather than tutor? :-)

Yep.. if you want to reply to me, please do via e-mail!

Cymbaline: intelligent learning mp3 player - python, linux, console.
get it at: cy.silmarill.org