College Teaching Tip of the Week – Vol. 1 Issue 5

Write Tests Students Will Like

It is a shame that Odin Westgaard’s book, Tests That Work- Designing & Delivering Fair & Practical Measurement Tools in the Workplace (1999, Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer) has not been embraced by academics.  A college instructor who follows Westgaard’s advice can alleviate students’ test anxiety and make the testing process worthwhile for all.  About a good and fair test, he writes, “… when we do take it, we truly enjoy the experience,” (pg. 8).  An instructor’s mindset is far too often to find out what students don’t know.  Westgaard admonishes, “The key is to remember that tests are for respondents.  They give respondents a chance to show off,” (pg. 73).

Instructors should design tests so students can show off what they have learned, not as part of a punitive process by which they lower students’ grades.  Follow the advice of one instructor who removed the word “Test” from his syllabus.  He replaced it “Celebration of Learning.”  That really tells it all!

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