Tuesday, May 10, 2016

In Class Versus Take Home Tests.

Test, Aptitude Test, Testing, Experiment  Out where I teach, we seem to loose time every month for various things from a death in the village which requires 3 days of mourning then the funeral, to flooding in the school, to visitors who need to meet with the students. 

I feel like I spend all my class time working on trying to cover the material and my tests and quizzes fall to the wayside and I end up with one major final at the end of the semester.  I want to do more assessments and have a way to do the quizzes but I'm wondering if a take home test can be as good as an in class one.

There are advantages to take home tests such as:
1.  The time restraint is lifted especially for students who do not do well under pressure.

2.  Students have time to think through questions and let their minds process material before starting to answer the question.

3.  Questions can be tougher than those given in an in class exam because of the extra time available.

4. It can give them a chance to learn the material.

Unfortunately, there are several huge disadvantages.
1.  The internet where student can look up problems or pay someone to do the work.

2.  The student does not develop additional understanding when they just copy.

A way to check to see if the student did it, is simply explain their work to you.  That gives a chance for them to prove it is their work. 

I stumbled across someone who stated they graded the take home questions are geared more for rigor and completeness of answers along with the quality of their writing.  The author does use an honor code but he does look at the writing.  To me this suggests that part of the process of the take home exam requires students to do more than just work out the problem.  I like that, especially if the material is discussed in class.  He also allows students to resubmit the work if it is wrong.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find much material on this topic for high school.  It was pretty much all for college.  So my thinking on this boils down to I plan to give the practice test as a take home but give the actual test in class.  Since there are two study hall nights a week, students can come in either as a group or as individuals.  I can also set up a site for them to type in their answers and they can get feedback on which are right or wrong so they know where they stand but I will not discuss this in class.

If they are willing to expand the energy to make sure their practice test is correct, they should do well on the final.  If not, they won't.  I plan to give them the practice one week before the scheduled test so they have time to work on it.  During this time period, they will not get any homework. 

The online site will give me instantaneous results so I know who is doing the work and how prepared they are.  Honestly, I need the day or two saved to teach material in my classroom.  Its a never ending challenge.