Test-taking, Then and Now

When I was still a student, much of the assessments used in school only tested our knowledge and comprehension. I grew up memorizing page after page of my History and Science books. I took notes diligently and even copied whatever my History teacher drew on the board. Success on a test back then depended on rote memorization. Even scores on essay tests relied on canned answers and how well we can construct our sentences around them.

I guess this was the reason why most of my classmates disliked the content-rich subjects. There was simply too much to memorize!

When I went to college, we were challenged to think outside the box, thanks to academic freedom. I went on and got my degree in Communication Research then went back to school to study Nursing. It was the exams that frustrated me. Much of the materials used in school were pooled from American textbooks and sample tests from the US Nurse Licensure Exam (NCLEX). These assessments tested little of our knowledge and targeted higher-order thinking skills instead, particularly application and evaluation.

I remembered one comment my aunt, a Nurse in the US, had said about how different schooling here in the Philippines is from the US. This was what she meant. We were so used to knowledge-based assessments that the US-patterned tests stumped many of us.

When I went to teach in school, the Science department where I am under used a table of specifications based on Bloom’s taxonomy that aimed to help teachers vary test questions with emphasis on HoTS. It was a challenge for me. I was sent to a seminar on Test Construction at the Ateneo during my first year of teaching and it had helped me understand that assessment should direct learning and instruction, rather than limit it.

Assessments nowadays, at least in our school, have improved from the rote-memory dependent tests I had growing up. They are much more varied and much more challenging. There is, however, still a lot we can improve on. I hope that after this term, I will be able to turn out better assessment methods for the benefit of my students.

A New Term

I started this blog last term as a journal for my Theories of Learning class while teaching at Assumption Antipolo. Last school year was a challenging one as we transitioned from the old 10-year Basic Ed curriculum to the K-12 curriculum. I have learned a lot last term and have applied what I can in the classroom (particularly the Primacy-Recency Effect I had talked about in my last post).

I have just began my third trimester of distance education at the University of the Philippines – Open University yesterday, September 6th. I am quite excited since my courses this term include Assessment Methods and Basic Guidance. I am teaching Biology this year (which is a relief) and I hope I will be able to manage my time better this term. 🙂

Starting this September, I will be writing about my EDS 113 (Principles and Methods of Assessment) course. Welcome aboard!