TITLE: Who Are You Really Testing? AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: April 23, 2010 4:52 PM DESC: ----- BODY: Earlier this week, I read How to Fail as a Teacher. Given some of the things I have been dealing with as department head lately, one particular method stuck out:
Always view test scores as about the failure or success of the student and not as a tool to evaluate your teaching Everyone failed one part of the test? The whole class much be dummies. Never assume that you might have taught it wrong. That sort of thinking could lead to new teaching methods, reteaching material or worst case differentiated instruction.
I know that when first starting, I required a big attitude adjustment (country music warning) in this area. First, I was doing a great job, and the students didn't get it. Then, I realized I was doing a less than perfect job, but the students just had to adapt. Finally, I now know that I am doing a less than perfect job, and my job is to find ways to help students get it. Even when I am doing a pretty good job, it is still my job is to find ways to help students get it. I'm not perfect yet at being imperfect yet, but at least I am aware. It seems that some profs never quite get there. Lately, we've been thinking a lot about outcomes assessment for our academic programs again. How do we get better as a department? How do we get better as individual instructors, at doing what we hope to do as educators? Writing down the outcomes is step one. Observing results and taking them seriously is step two. Feeding back what we learn into our personal behavior, our courses, and our programs is the third. If your students aren't reaching the goal, then maybe you need to teach them differently. If most of your students never reach the goal, or if some of your students regularly do not, then almost certainly you need to do something different. Oh, and the article's first two ways to fail are effective ones, too. -----