My Views on Patrick O'Malley's “More Testing, More Learning”

Topics: Homework, Anxiety, Study skills Pages: 5 (1721 words) Published: February 19, 2014
More Testing In Class Is Not The Solution

In his essay paper “More Testing. More Learning,” Patrick O’Malley proposes that frequently testing during class would help the students learn and study more. This would not only help to increase student’s performances, but it would also benefit students who are dealing with anxiety. Besides procrastinating students wouldn’t be able to put their work aside. O’Malley thinks he came up with the perfect solution: a test after every unit or chapter, once a week or at least twice monthly, two or three questions that don’t contain multiple choice or short – answers and the test should be only 15 – 20 minutes long. O’Malley’s arguments and studies do not always contain the necessary information to support his position. Some of the arguments and solutions O’Malley suggest throughout his paper even undermine his proposal.

O’Malley believes “the main reason that professors should give frequent exams is that … they [would] provide feedback…” I agree that feedback is really important to know how well you are doing in class, but there are other ways to provide feedback to students. O’Malley supports his argument with a Harvard Study. “[Harvard Students] believe they learn most in courses with ‘many opportunities to see how they are doing’.” (Light qtd in O’Malley). Students believe it is important that teachers provide feedback, but in the Harvard study O’Malley is using, the students don’t talk about feedback they get through testing. “A recent Harvard study notes… students feel they learn least in courses that have ‘only a midterm and a final exam, with no other personal evaluation.’” (Light. Qtd in O’Malley) The Harvard study’s main focus is about providing feedback to the students, because “[a] recent Harvard study notes students’ ‘strong preference for frequent evaluation in a course.’” (O’Malley). While O’Malley’s main focus in his proposal paper is on more testing, what makes this study irrelevant for O’Malley’s paper. I do believe feedback is really important, because like I earlier said, it shows how well you are doing in class. And by following up on your feedback you can improve your skills. Think about feedback from essays, feedback from assignments, feedback from projects, etc. The second study O’Malley mentions is a review of several studies based on student learning. “[Students] who take weekly quizzes achieve higher scores on final exams…” (Frederikson) This study looks relevant, because this is what O’Malley’s paper is about, more testing will bring better results. But if we take a closer look, than O’Malley does not provide us enough information. First of all the study dates from the year 1984 what makes this study inaccurate. A second flaw is the fact O’Malley does not give us more information about the quizzes. There is a possibility that the quizzes are classical where, at the beginning of the class, the teacher asks questions and then randomly chooses someone to answer. The quiz can also be open book, where students get questions on paper to answer and can use their books and notes. There are different ways how professors can give a quiz. Also the content of the quiz is important. When you ask open questions, you can test the students on their knowledge, because with multiple-choice, students can guess if they don’t know the answer and still have the answer correct. A third flaw is the fact that O’Malley is talking about professors, that they should give frequent exams so they would provide feedback to the students. In this study Frederikson is not talking about feedback students get from weekly quizzes. He is talking about the fact students knowledge increases when they take weekly quizzes. If O’Malley had provide us more detailed information than this study would maybe have been relevant.

Another argument that O’Malley point out is that “ [greater] frequency in test taking means greater frequency in studying for tests’, but that means that students would have...
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