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Exams As Authentic Assessments

January 13, 2014

Members of Neemu Reddy’s III Form English class before performing scenes from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

As we start to write and create exams, let’s think about how to make these exams an authentic learning experience for the students, and for us.  These assessments should reveal what the students have learned and how they think, write, speak, compute and work through new questions and fresh scenarios.

  • Are there ways we can write an exam which embodies the highest goals of our teaching and our desire for student learning? (Conversely, what would an exam look like that doesn’t advance those goals and desires?)
  • Can we formulate an exam which students will actually enjoy working through?  That we will be inspired to read?
  • Can we think of ways, in courses we teach together and within departments, where we can ask students common questions to assess their progress as a class and form?
  • Can we make sure we create exams that don’t let them cheat because of the inventive nature of our questions?  Can we write questions and problems that immediately appeal to their innate intellectual curiosity and desire to explore?
  • What are the most essential questions we can ask that will accurately assess the core values, precepts and critical thinking skills of our course?

I hope we can all come up with exams that are intellectually challenging and become a part of the curriculum of our courses.  In many ways, they should be the next class we teach.

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