When you give a test or quiz, do you basically just grade it, give it back to students, go over the answers, then move on? If you don’t do anything else with the information, if you don’t look carefully at how students answer your test questions, you’re missing a BIG opportunity.
Assessments should give us loads of information about what our students understand, what they don’t understand, and how well we’ve taught them. It took me years of teaching before I realized I was using my tests and quizzes to sort out, reward and punish my students, rather than measure and inform my teaching. I needed to make my assessments work harder for me.
So one year, I added an extra step while grading tests: I kept track of all the wrong answers on one page, tallying exactly which items were being chosen instead. Once I started doing this, I found myself far better equipped to respond to wrong answers: I could reteach specific concepts only to students who needed reteaching, rather than wasting everyone’s time with unnecessary review. I could identify specific misconceptions students had about the material and get better at addressing those the next time around. I also became a much better test maker.
The best part about this system is you only need a pencil, an answer key, and a few extra minutes.
Here it is:
If you’re already doing something like this, I would love to hear about it in the comments. If you have some kind of electronic reporting system that can crunch all these numbers for you and give you the information you need to move forward, awesome. If not, adding this extra step to your assessment routine will make a difference. ♦