Pellegrino said educators should be clear about the forms of thinking and reasoning they want students to be able to engage in, and they should teach students to reason within disciplines instead of general problem-solving. He said instructors must not focus only on the areas that are easy to teach and assess – such as formulas that can be regurgitated and tested through multiple-choice tests – but teach students a body of knowledge and a way of reasoning within that context.
“The way we assess students is an abomination in higher education,” he said, adding that instead of simply issuing multiple-choice tests, instructors should give students essays and short-answer questions to teach them how to apply facts and formulas to problems across the discipline.
I really had hoped that the convergence was happening until I read bolded area above - essays and short-answers were the suggested solution.
I agree that they're kind of missing the point -- we need to look at new and better ways of assessing, not just revamp our examinations.
At the same time, though, I think they're trying to say that a short answer question provides more opportunity for thought and problem solving than a multiple choice question, and there I agree with them. Where I live, all standardized tests are multiple choice, and they're deliberately as tricky as they can make them. If they at least had short answers, the kids would be able to show what they knew instead of just picking from a pre set list of answers.
That said, maybe it's time we start redefining assessment altogether. I know that last year, I had parents AND kids up in arms because I didn't give exams in social studies, which meant -- and I quote -- "no one learned anything."
So because they didn't memorize facts to regurgitate on a test, they didn't learn. This, more than anything, worries me. Can we as educators make these changes if the rest of society remains convinced that testing is the only way to prove knowledge?
Don’t do work that just exists within your classroom... do work that changes the world. -Will Richardson