We all need to know how our students are doing, right?
We need to know if they truly meeting all the objectives, or not. This is where tests come in handy. They give us the feedback we need to know what to focus on more, what needs to be worked on and what doesn’t. Sadly, they make a lot of people nervous and anxious, and they are also a lot of work for teachers. Nonetheless, we all know what the advantages to testing are. The real question is: how often? Some subscribe to the idea the more the better. Others don't since they believe that testing too often does not promote real learning. So what are the advantages to using tests and disadvantages of using them too often? Let's take a look.
4 Advantages of Using Tests
To Test the Student
It goes without mention that checking to see if your students are learning is incredibly important. No matter what is taught, tests are a way for teachers to determine which students are having trouble and which are acquiring the skills and knowledge they should be acquiring. The result of the test can help the teacher know if some things should be reviewed, or if it's okay to keep moving forward. Where grades are concerned, they give students something to strive for and work towards. Students can ask themselves: I know how I'm doing. Can I do better? What other goals can I achieve?
To Test Your School/Institute
Schools and/or institutes are responsible for choosing or even creating the programs that are used in their institutions. Tests give them accurate feedback on how well designed these programs are and how they can be improved. Also, they would be able to see if something needs to be added or removed from the program.
To Test the Teacher
Since teachers are directly responsible for providing the lessons themselves, tests also provide insight on how well they do their job. After all it's not only about the program, material and students. Teachers have to work their magic to manage all these elements and any others that exist to ensure learning takes place. Basically, to see how well they are teaching their students. Tests can help them ask themselves: Are the strategies I've chosen, the best? What teaching methods or approaches are most effective? Are any changes or modifications needed to help my student? What have they learned? Can the student use the new knowledge? Can the student demonstrate and use the new skills accurately?
To Keep Students Motivated
Most would agree that the harder you work, the better you do. With this in mind, students tend to work harder if someone is checking up on their work. Tests help keep students on their toes and ensure, to some extent, they don't let their work slide. If they know that they'll have to take a test on the material, they might be more likely to give it that extra effort.
4 Disadvantages of Testing Too Often
Unrealistic expectations may be one of the greatest risks to success where tests are concerned. It is very important to have clear and realistic objectives of what your students are actually excepted to achieve. Testing too often can affect how clear objectives are to learners and teachers. Testing should take place only after specific milestones have been achieved.
Too much of something is usually not good, at least that's what most say. It's always better to avoid excesses. So if that's the case, testing too often should be avoided too. While working towards a goal can be very motivating, as we mentioned earlier, by using tests too often you run the risk of putting unnecessary stress and pressure on students. Testing often may result in a decrease in their enthusiasm.
Can Progress Be Measured Accurately?
Tests need to be spaced out. When there are too many tests, they tend to bunch together and don't really provide a clear view on what the progress has been between one test and the one that follows. It's kind of like reading something when it's held too close to your eyes. The words get jumbled up and it is confusing. By holding it away or leaving some room, things become easier to see.
Is There Room for Improvement?
When tests are taken too often there is little space between them to make improvements or needed changes. If a student is facing an issue, they won't have enough time to dedicate to the areas that are difficult to them either. There simply might not be enough time to make the necessary improvements.
So what should we do?
Well, as we said before, perhaps it's best to simply avoid extreme situations. Use tests moderately. Keep in mind that tests are part of assessment, they are part of a bigger picture. As they say, there is more than one way to skin a cat. To avoid using tests too often, perhaps other forms of assessment should be used instead. Remember that there are many different forms of assessment. Project-based assessment is yet another alternative, though it tends to be collaborative. Tests should be used when you need to look for knowledge and skills for individual students. They provide data on individuals. To sum up, don't go overboard with tests. Try to prepare a well designed portfolio that includes different types of assessment including some tests.