Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Testing/Quizzing

My former high school counselor and principal--both former math teachers--suggested to me several years ago that I needed to give either a test or a quiz each week. Since then I've done so, and apparently there's a good reason for doing so:

Testing improves recall of information, concludes a Washington University at St. Louis study. Scientific American quotes researcher Jason Chan: “Frequent testing, not restudying, is the key to long-term retention.”

10 comments:

MikeAT said...

I heard about this driving to work yesterday and I have only one question. How many millions of tax dollars did we waste on this study to find out something we’ve known for centuries?

I mean someone had to think this had to be studied. There are some concepts that are so stupid that they take advanced degrees to think of.

Anonymous said...

Follow the links and read the whole article. This is one study, and it's overwhelmingly contradicted by other published studies.

Which isn't to say that the testing you do isn't wise - maybe it works just fine with math. But don't get carried away with making generalizations based on one study.

Anonymous said...

I think the best way to teach is to give a small quiz every day - just on one lesson (done the previous day). This forces students to stay caught up, removes the pressure from huge tests - preventing cramming at the last minute, and I think, is a much better method for giving quizzes.

Lillian said...

This is excellent information and a research based and proven strategy.
But isn't life like that? The more we are tested in a certain area, the more we improve, whether it's in relationships, business, etc.

I have never understand why teachers have a problem with 'teaching to the test'.

Another suggestion is to give the same test frequently, with the same items, but in different formats, i.e., essay, multiple choice, etc.

It might sound like 'cheating' but it isn't...

Darren said...

The article states that studies that do not agree with this one use a methodology that isn't at all like a school course--that is, they mostly had people memorizing lists of words. This study had "material" that had to be learned.

rightwingprof said...

Our policy is students know how many pop quizzes they will get. They don't know when they get quizzed. It's an additional incentive to come to class.

And quizzes come at the END of class, not at the beginning.

EllenK said...

I know that for operations and such, it's a necessary tool for gauging mastery. I plan to test weekly in my AP Art History just over image recognition. Written testing will be every other week. But I have to admit, this is designed to build the skills needed for the AP test itself and many folks consider that suspect.

Darren said...

All of my tests/quizzes are announced well in advance--they happen every Friday, unless I announce otherwise. And if you miss the day before a test/quiz, you still take it. Some think that makes me a horrible person, but they'll have to get over it. I have.

As far as building skills necessary to take the AP test--some people won't be happy until there's no testing (but theirs) left in the world. Ignore them.

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

I'm teaching John Steinbeck's The Pearl to a crop of seventh graders and I quiz them every single day on the material that we've just covered. This is a strategic intervention class. The kids already have low test scores. They need all the testing they can get--and I'm happy to oblige!

rightwingprof said...

"overwhelmingly contradicted by other published studies."

Actually no, it is not. The psychologist who made that claim was strongly overstating the research. The research he referred to has nothing to do with testing, but short term memory recall.

Learning isn't short term memory.