Friday, February 27, 2009

More on testing and evaluating

I've discussed evaluation technique a little here and admitted how I need to improve my evaluating skills. Somewhat related is this article about selfish stakeholders (school teachers and inspectors) adjusting evaluation results for their own gain and the student's loss.

The news is bad, but also, the English is interesting.
"schoolteachers and even their inspectors were busy hiding their students' ``real'' downright phony-up of scores." Ah, "...downright faking of scores"? "...downright creation of scores"?
"Most Koreans must simply be hoping ― not so convincingly ― the second year will be different." How does one hope convincingly?

"A more fundamental question, however, should be about the wisdom of continuing the attainment test, which critics say is nothing but the grading of all of the nation's elementary and secondary schools from first to last by a uniform test."
This part isn't funny, it's just a serious question."

Some other serious points:
"President Lee stressed the need for universities to select students with more creative thinking and growth potential instead of those getting the highest marks in tests...

Even if national competitiveness is the keyword in education, what enhances the competitiveness is not endless competition in education, but the education based cooperation and consideration of others, as shown by the countries with the most advanced educational systems in the world, such as Finland.

Surveys say 70 percent of Finnish students have found studying interesting, while 60 percent of Korean students wish they had been born in other countries."

I am reminded of January 30's Science Friday broadcast describing the teaching of science facts (relating here as the easiest manner of test preparation) and the teaching of scientific reasoning. At this time, I am preparing an ESL text content based on biology and cannot think of how to teach scientific reasoning within the course framework. The class will almost definitely be a sort of 'history of evolution' because preparing and running actual experiments (I say 'actual' to contrast with the experiments I did in high school and early university that were repeats of past experiments, whose answers were already known: Actual experiments rather than recipe-following) will be too difficult. Hmm, I have a new respect for science fairs, where students do get to make their own choices and exercises their creativity.


On a different, though still teaching-oriented subject, edutainment may not work as well as I had thought.

This report describes testing whether the telling of interesting anecdotes, which does seem to keep the students paying attention, actually improves memorization of the content. Apparently, it does not.
The students did equally well on the test of general knowledge, whether or not the extra details were interesting. But when they were asked to apply that knowledge, arguably a more difficult task, the students who saw the boring extra details performed significantly better, whether the information was presented in booklet, PowerPoint, or animated form.
So while students can get the general gist of a topic when there are irrelevant examples, they do better at applying that information when those examples aren't very interesting.

Sexy examples, it seems, distract from the learning task. The researchers aren't suggesting that teachers start using boring examples, either -- what's best is to present only information that's relevant to what's being learned. Adding in irrelevant examples, especially the juicy ones, only makes learning more difficult.

The comments at the blog, linked above, attack the methodology as the examples of interesting and boring material were for different fields so there might be more uncontrolled variables.

An ex-coworker told me how his teacher described getting the correct mouth shape for a difficult pronunciation. He said she said (I'm a nerd who is amused by being able to write that phrase) to imagine you mouth is full of worms. That certainly is evocative and memorable but I forget what the pronunciation is for.

Back to the article: it talks about how a teacher, when students were being unruly, would say, "SEX!" and then continue the lesson as everyone suddenly paid attention to her. The article claims that this approach would not work, which means this university would not be as successful as previously thought.

No comments: