Home' Teacher : December 2009 Contents 26 TEACHER DECEMBER 2009
Finally, the end of the unit of work that has been
occupying the class for the last few weeks has been
reached. Now to assess how much has been learned;
it 's testing time.
Most tests in schools a re curriculum-based achieve-
ment tests, designed to determine whether students have
reached a benchmark of knowledge sufficient to enable
them to progress to the next topic or the next stage
of their education. They measure what can be recalled
after all of that class time -- knowledge of places, events,
dates, formulae, procedures, observations. Few tests
have questions that require students to comprehend and
interpret a new context that was similar to the ones
discussed in class. Even fewer expect students to apply
what has been learned to a completely new situation.
Gaining ground as a complement to achievement tests
are scholastic ability tests. Such tests are designed to
measure whether students are able to think logically and
work their way through problems they haven't encoun-
tered in a classroom. Since these tests aren't based on
any particular curriculum, the information needed to
understand the questions is supplied as part of the test.
Under these conditions, a test of recall ability becomes
pointless. Instead, these tests emphasise reasoning skills.
Students must have a solid grasp of foundation knowl-
edge on which to base new information for any form
of learning to occur, and require an understanding of a
certain body of knowledge if they are to be considered
educated. It's also vital, however, that students develop
the ability to think for themselves if they are to succeed
beyond the school context.
Reasoning goes beyond rote learning: it takes as its
base assumption that memorising something is not the
same as thinking about it. Research has show n that
children can be taught to memorise something -- a fact, a
formula, a quote from a book -- without understanding
it. Reasoning requires more cognitive processing, and
is more difficult to refine than rote learning, but it also
has a much wider application. Reasoning enables us to
understand pieces of information; connect them to each
other; relate new information to existing knowledge;
organise and categorise information; and fit pieces of
information together in novel ways to create new solu-
tions to problems.
Our educational understanding of reasoning dates
back at least to 1956, when Benjamin Bloom, an edu-
cational psychologist at the University of Chicago,
developed his Taxonomy of Educational Objectives.
Bloom's taxonomy, studied by most trainee teachers,
is an educational theory that classifies learning goals
for students into three 'domains': affective, relating to
attitude or emotional intelligence; psychomotor, relat-
ing to physical abilities or skills; and cognitive, relating
to knowledge and thinking skills.
According to Bloom's theory, there is a hierarchy
of skills within each domain such that each skill must
be mastered before the next can be acquired. Within
Bloom's cognitive domain, there are six skills. At the
bottom of the hierarchy is knowledge; in tests, this is
characterised by tasks that require students to list and
recall information, the 'who,' 'when' and 'where' ques-
tions. Next in the hierarchy is comprehension; charac-
terised by 'describe,' 'compare,' 'summarise' and 'inter-
pret' test questions.
THE AGE OF
BEING AN INVESTIGATION OF
VERBAL, QUANTITATIVE AND
ABSTRACT REASONING SKILLS
A NEW ASSESSMENT RESOURCE ADDRESSES THE NEED FOR TESTS OF STUDENTS'
REASONING SKILLS THROUGHOUT THEIR SCHOOLING, AS MALCOLM HUNT EXPLAINS.
Links Archive November 2009 February 2010 Navigation Previous Page Next Page