Lately I have been going through a strange occurrence. It is particularly strange, given that I am in all education, major, and minor classes, but I have realized I have no exams. Not only do I not have any end of the semester exams, but I have realized that I haven’t really had any exams at all! And with that said, I think I have learned about the same (if not more) knowledge than I have ever learned in my semesters where I was jam-packed with exams. So, I decided to do a little research.
From what I have found, exams seem to be a little out of date. Sure, they have their place, but for the most part exams do the opposite of what they set out to do. First of all, they put an inordinate amount of pressure on students leading up to them (and during them). This can lead to miscalculation of skill and overall exhaustion on part of the student. Having students take three exams for their entire grade (I have had this happen) or anything like it, is just silly. It makes it so teachers/professors don’t get to teach the content. They have to teach toward the exams, and the student learns the same way. There are 100 different reasons for and against exams, but this was the one I wanted to highlight.
So, if I am not taking exams, what am I doing? Well, to answer in a word: PROJECTS. So many projects. Here is the thing though, I don’t really mind the busy work as much as I would if I were having to study content that I already learned in an attempt to get a grade on an exam. By doing these projects I get to find a way to teach myself the content in a way that is suited toward my overall goal of the class, which I find to be pretty cool. Is busy work fun? No it is not, but it sure beats making endless note cards or filling out a review sheet to use to take a test.
I hope this is something that I will remember to do when I become a teacher. I have heard it before from my professors in college, and teachers in high school. They used to say how much they hated taking exams, yet would make us take exams all the time. I hope I do not do that, and I hope you don’t either. Find ways to help support students that doesn’t include just test taking. Sure it has it’s place, but so does letting students teach themselves while finding their own avenues of learning. It takes a little extra work, but I think not having to grade test after test will more than make up for it.