Pros and Cons of Final Exams

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Tuesday marks the beginning of Finals Week at my school.  I’ve been teaching for nine years, and each year I change the way I have administered and developed my midterm and final exam.  I have rarely been required to follow a particular format by my administration, which was a joy but also could be taxing.  I have utilized objective assessment formats: multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and matching; subjective and project-based have also served as my culminating assessments.  I have reflected on the merits of the multiple formats and have determined a list of pros and cons for each.

Subjective Assessments (Multiple Choice, Fill-in-the-Blank, Matching, etc.)

Hand completing a multiple choice exam.

Hand completing a multiple choice exam.

Pros:

  • Easy to grade
  • Relatively easy to create
  • Trends in comprehension (number correct/incorrect) efficiently identified
  • Format can parallel standardized tests which allows for students to be more familiar and comfortable when assessed (ACT, SAT, state tests)

Cons:

  • Only assesses one type of learning/interpretation
  • Creating questions that truly align with objectives/standards can be difficult
  • Leaves little room for students to express themselves and their understanding
  • Little-to-no creativity or individuality allowed

Objective Assessments (Short Answer, Short Essay, Essay)

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Pros:

  • Students able to express themselves and their understanding in their own way
  • More room for individuality
  • Questions can be more easily created because they can encompass more ideas/skills

Cons:

  • Takes longer to grade
  • Some students are not strong writers
  • Addresses one learning style
  • Usually there are fewer questions (sometimes only one), therefore if it is interpreted incorrectly, students’ responses may not fully encompass their full knowledge
  • ESL/ESE students may struggle
  • Extensive rubrics required

Project-Based/Presentations

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Pros:

  • Allowance for multiple interpretations and approaches to answering the prompt
  • Creativity is encouraged
  • Application of classroom content to a real-world issue
  • Students are allowed to connect to the content in a real way
  • More learning styles are addressed
  • Collaboration is an option

Cons:

  • Requires outside of class time – teacher has little control over if it is completed
  • Developing the project requirements is more complex
  • Multiple aspects need to addressed when grading
  • Students need strong support in developing presentation skills; scaffolding required
  • Multiple days required for presentation
  • Extensive rubrics required

Conclusion

Ultimately, there is no one proper way to assess students; all formats present their advantages and disadvantages.  A good teacher who wants to truly assess their students’ complete understanding and skill level will not choose just one format, but will allow for multiple assessment formats.

March Currently & Goals

March Currently

Loving…that the weather is beginning to turn towards Spring, at least in Florida.  My poor family and friends up north are still suffering the Winter Blahs.

Reading…Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage I just finished this book on Saturday; you can read my review here.  I’ve decided to return to The Goldfinch, but only so that I can read another Murakami novel next.

Watching…too many TV shows.  My DVR is full of trashy Bravo shows, but the thought of deleting them makes me sad.  Maybe I really do have an addiction.

Enjoying…Fresh Fruit Crepes from First Watch.

Preparing…my list of goals for the month.  I don’t want a repeat of ambiguous goals that may or may not be moving towards an endpoint.  These will be tangible and measurable, per the S.M.A.R.T. Goal assignment I require of my students.

Learning…about another form of rhetorical analysis for my AP Lang students via Mrs. Anderson at YA Love.

Feeling…grateful for an awesome mom who helped me prepare 14 crock pot/freezer dinners for March.  Each recipe made two freezer bags/crockpots-o-dinner

Recipes:

  • Cream of Celery Pork Tenderloin
  • Aloha Chicken
  • Thai Chicken
  • Applesauce Chicken
  • Salsa Chicken
  • Chicken Fajitas
  • Maple Pork

March Goals

  1. Reading: Complete The Goldfinch and begin 1Q84
  2. Financial: No takeout lunch/dinner for the month of March
  3. Wellness: Gym time five days a week
  4. Professionally: Finalize my ESOL endorsement paperwork
  5. House and Home: Vacuum the car

 

Reflective Teaching Challenge Day Sixteen: My Superpower Wish

DAY SIXTEEN

If you could have one superpower to use in the classroom, what would it be and how would it help?

I Teach.  What's your superpower

In my mind, there are several ways that one could apply a superpower in the classroom.

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  1. There are days that I wish I could be the Flash, dashing from my classroom to the restroom between classes, to the copy machine, and back before anyone noticed that I was gone.Endurance-1994604
  2. I’ve day dreamed about having superhuman endurance/energy so that I am not subjected to the afternoon lulls or the ability to stay up late preparing for the next day’s class, not feeling the effects throughout the next day.  2551238-superman_man_of_steel1
  3. According to List25.com, having superpower of Invulnerability is, “Invulnerability grants heroes immunity to one or more forms of physical, mental, or spiritual damage. If you possessed this power, you would never have to worry about getting beat up by bullies, mending a broken heart, or suffering from depression.”  I definitely could utilize this ability on the days in which flippant comments from students, hostile parents, and unsupportive administration gets to me.  We’ve talked in the past that educators are some of the least appreciated, underpaid/overworked professionals.  Talk about some of the most deserving of the superpower of Invulnerability!multilingual1
  4. Omnilinguism is the ability to understand any form of language, and assuming that I could add the stipulation that I could also speak any language, this would be probably the most effective superpower because of the high percentage of ESOL students that I worked with.  2-How-To-Predict-The-Future-With-Twitter
  5. The ability to predict the future would be an interesting ability to possess.  I would use this talent in accordance with my teaching by predicting how well students would perform on assessments.  Before you start yelling at me, I want you to understand me clearly: I want to know if I’ve taught them, supported them enough so that they will be able to confidently complete assessments that I CREATE, NOT those standardized tests.