Appropriate test types
Test distribution tactics
Many teachers often have students score each other’s test, especially in the case of short quizzes. There are two clear and obvious advantages to having your students do the scoring. First, if they score it right after taking the test, the feedback is immediate. That is a proven incentive for learning. Second, it relieves you of some of the odious chore of doing it yourself. (On the other hand, if you use the same questions throughout the day, earlier classes can pass on the answer to later ones.)
Of course, you wouldn’t have students score each other’s essay tests. So that leaves the objective type. While the short answer test might cause some problems, it is usually manageable if you are careful to avoid questions allowing ambiguous answers. Otherwise you’ll spend an interminable amount of time judging a dozen variations of each answer.
When having students score each other’s tests, you need to establish a clear procedure first. Do you want them to just put an “X” through the wrong answer or correct it also? How should the score be reported? Do you want the number right, number wrong, a percent or a letter grade? You’ll probably have to remind them of your procedure many times, since other teachers will be having them do it differently in their classes. Again, go over these directions before you begin the scoring. There will be too much excitement once the test is scored for you to give instructions.
Finally, how do you redistribute the papers for scoring? Teachers frequently have each student give their paper to the student on the right, or the left, or behind or just to someone else. The problem is that if a pattern evolves and John is always scoring Matt’s paper, or worse yet, if John and Matt always exchange papers so as to score each other’s, then they might agree to give the other a higher score than earned.
There is a simple way to control and vary the redistribution of papers for scoring. After the test, start picking up the papers at the front left corner of the room, putting each new paper on top of the stack. Now, as you are returning to the front of the class, turn the stack over so the bottom becomes the top of the pile. Starting from the new top of the stack (which is the first paper you picked up), begin handing out the papers following the same route you took when you picked them up, although starting further along the row. After handing a paper to the student in the last seat, go back to the front and continue, finishing the route you began when you picked up the papers. You might, for example, begin by giving the first paper in the inverted stack to the fifth student along your original route. For the next test, you could start with the eighth student, and so on. This way the students will never know ahead of time who will be grading their test. Oh, yes. If you don’t turn the stack over, one kid may get his own paper.
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