Assessment goes wrong

I absolutely have to put this on my blog. I found it in a presentation put together by Ako Aotearoa drawing from the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative. First, the content of the lecture.

The Montillation of Traxoline.

It is very important that you learn about traxoline.  Traxoline is a new form of zionter. It is montilled in Ceristanna.  The Ceristannians gristerlate large quantities of fevon and then bracter it to quasel traxoline.  Traxoline may well be one of our most lukized snezlaus in the future, because of our zionter lescelidge.

Now, the assessment questions.

1.  What is traxoline?

2.  Where is traxoline montilled?

3.  How is traxoline quaselled?

4.  Why is it important to know about traxoline?

This is credited in the Ako Aotearoa presentation to Judy Lanier. With a bit of effort, I'm sure most students should be getting 'A' grades in this assignment. And what have they learnt in the process? Absolutely nothing. That's because the assessment is testing English sentence structure, not chemistry, geology, history or whatever we think traxoline falls under.

The point is, how many of the assessments we set for physics (or whatever) are actually testing something entirely different. I know a lot of physics and engineering assessments I've seen are actually testing algebra. Their only use is to help students learn algebra.

One thought on “Assessment goes wrong”

  • pip bruce ferguson says:

    Hi Marcus – I really had to grin when I read this. It was around in the 1980s when I first started teaching tertiary, and yes, it does make the point really well that ‘comprehension’ type questions are not necessarily testing comprehension of the SUBJECT, more comprehension of the structure of English language. Interesting to see it still being used.

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