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Journal #2

Feb 3/14

For my journal entry today for this course I have decided to explore the concept of how we view testing in education. The whole idea of challenging testing as it has been done for MANY years is striking for me. In Chapter 7, Bowen (2012) challenges the reader to rethink the concept of testing, cheating, open book vs. closed book and basically everything I have been using as an educator. He focuses instead on learned and applied methodology which is more applicable to the work place. He uses the example of whether we want a doctor who can do the math or one that knows what questions to ask? (Bowen, 2012).
The concept of teaching students to know when to ask questions, how to ask them etc., is not new to me. We have been teaching students this for years in the nursing program. Every nurse will say “I can’t possibly know everything; instead I must know who to ask or where to look it up.” Interesting concept considering as a nurse, every course is evaluated with multiple choice exams (possibly containing written as well). At the end of a nursing student’s education they must write a multiple choice exam culminating their years of education in order to license and work as a nurse. Basically this says to us as educators that a student is not good enough unless they can retrieve and write tests well. I even screen for test anxiety in all my student interviews prior to enrolling them in the program!
Reality though says that we really shouldn’t rely so heavily on the ability to memorize and spit out information. After all nursing is about critical thinking, applying concepts, individualizing care and is so far from memorization. We do write our tests in order to challenge the student in such a way that memorization will not help them answer the question; instead they have to apply their learning and argue a point as two answers may be very similar but one is better than the other. However, have we done enough to ensure that we are training our future nurses to THINK rather than PRODUCE? I am not sure we are there yet as I get students who are passing the theory but come to lab and fall apart. Does this not say exactly what Bowen is saying? We need to challenge the methods of our testing and apply them to the real world, using technology, new ways of thinking and by teaching our students to find information? (Bowen, 2012).
I need to do a lot more research on this subject before I can truly let go of the hold testing has over me. I feel already that the rope has at least loosened and I am open to considering new possibilities in terms of evaluating student knowledge acquisition in class. Thornburg (2001), wrote an interesting analogy: When we get a driver’s license we all go through a multiple choice test AND a driving test but it’s the driving test that makes us truly feel comfortable with others on the road. So if that’s true why can’t we let go of the EXAM? In nursing we do this Practical type testing but maybe we need to consider more and also rethinking the use of multiple choice exams as the ultimate in evaluation.
References:
Bowen, J.A (2012) Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning. Jossey-Boss, San Francisco CA
Roediger, I. L., & Marsh, E. J. (2005). The Positive and Negative Consequences of Multiple-Choice Testing. Journal Of Experimental Psychology. Learning, Memory & Cognition, 31(5), 1155-1159.
Thornburg, D (2001) Pencils Down! How Decontextualized Standardized Testing Can Destroy Education. Multimedia Schools 8(3) May/Jun2001

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