At the CTL we are committed to providing practical examples and strategies for effective teaching.
Here we will be showcasing new ideas from our faculty and instructors. If you have a teaching practice you wish to share, please contact us.
Collaborative Test-Taking – Alternative Assessments
Robyne's SoTL project on Collaborative Test-Taking
Traditionally, in post-secondary classrooms, student learning is assessed independently. Students complete tests alone, in silence, with no interaction with their peers. Once the test is completed, students usually submit the test to the instructor and receive little to no feedback other than a numeric grade that usually comes days or even weeks later. In some incidents, students may be given the correct answers, but rarely do students have the opportunity to debrief their strategies for determining the correct answer or the logic they applied to solve the problems. It is interesting to note that despite test-taking being so widely adopted as a means of assessment, there are conflicting views in the literature on whether test-taking is the best means of accurately measuring learning. Hanley-Dafoe and Bruce (2017) studied first-year course design and assessment practices and found that in the 92 first-year courses reviewed, a total of 96% of the first-year courses had a final exam and 86% had a midterm exam. Despite test-taking being a stress-inducing event with conflicting evidence for learning effectiveness, it continues to be widely used.
An alternative pedagogical approach to testing is known as collaborative testing or group testing. Bloom (2009) explained collaborative testing as an educational strategy that engages groups of students in formative assessments designed to both assess and enhance student learning. Zimbardo, Butler, and Wolfe (2003) found that when students completed cooperative exams there were a host of positive benefits including: reduced test anxiety, elevated confidence in course materials, the irrelevance of cheating and an increase in the overall enjoyment of test-taking and learning the course material. Several other research report similar findings (See Cortright, Collins, Rodenbaugh & DiCarlo, 2003, & Zapp, 2007, for selective literature summaries).
Currently, I am working on a SoTL project with REB approval to study the student experience of using collaborative test-taking in a large third-year psychology course. More to come on this soon! If you are interested in learning more about collaborative test-taking, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bloom, D., 2009. Collaborative test-taking: benefits for learning and retention. Coll. Teach. 57 (4), 216–220. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/87567550903218646.
Zimbardo, P.G., Butler, L.D., Wolfe, V.A., 2003. Cooperative college examinations: More gain, less pain when students share information and grades. J. Exp. Educ. 71 (2), 101–125 (Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20152702)