In the last week, I’ve graded more than 80 tests where I told the students what they would be tested on. Far too many students received grades below 70%. In one class, I gave them a practice test. Every test problem was like the problems on the practice test. The differences: The numbers were changed, the order of the problems was changed, and the practice test had one problem that wasn’t on the test. About a third of the test involved solving quadratic equations, yet I had students who used the quadratic formula incorrectly and didn’t know how to factor. Both of these skills were taught in the prerequisite course.

In my Calculus II class, I had students who are missing basic algebra skills. Nevertheless, they could study what I told them to study. When I tell them that there will be a homework problem on the test like the homework from section 7.4 and the homework has only seven problems, I would think that a problem that I went over in class might be something that they studied. I used the same wording, and just changed the numbers.

In every class, I had a handful of students with scores above 90, sometimes more than a quarter of the class. Yet when the same class has half the class below 70, I am frustrated by the fact that they don’t care enough to study what I tell them to study. Or to be more accurate, the evidence suggests that they don’t study at all.

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Tags: Education, math

This entry was posted on November 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm and is filed under Teaching. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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November 15, 2011 at 6:38 pm |

excellent analysis of both testing what you teach AND why students still fail. lol. I wish all those who feel testing is the answer understood that issue…:-P