Testing to Promote Student Learning

At this point in the semester, many courses are building toward a midterm examination. As a teacher, how can you best design such tests to motivate and assess student learning?  How can you be sure that your classroom instruction adequately prepares students for the exam?  How, in short, can you make the most of exam time as a learning opportunity for your students?

The process of designing an exam can offer a great opportunity to ensure that your learning goals, instructional practices, and assessment techniques are all well aligned. Our website features several resources to help you thoughtfully design exams that reliably measure whether students have learned what you've been trying to teach them--and evaluate those exams fairly. These emphasize that effective exams 

  • test concepts and skills that students have been prepared for through instruction, focusing on the course's primary learning goals 
  • provide useful information about student learning of that content
  • allow for consistent measurement of student performance, including discriminating between different levels of performance
  • require tasks that can be completed with reasonable time and effort.

For more on these guidelines for effective exams, as well as a broad range of resources about testing and grading issues, click here. For the CRLT Occasional Paper on "Best Practices for Designing and Grading Exams," click here.  

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