Teaching to the test has become commonplace in classrooms across the U.S. The pressure to achieve excellent grades and pass standardized tests provokes some students to cheat. This means not only that these students receive grades they don’t earn, but also that they miss out on knowledge they will need in the future.
It is time to rethink methods of instruction to focus on real learning and demonstrating mastery of skills instead of rote memorization. There are ample opportunities for instructors to adjust their curricula without sacrificing their students’ grades or test scores.
Benefits of Open-Book Testing
Who loved the rare open-book test in school? The truth is that open-book testing is valuable and encourages students to learn not only the information they need but also how and where to find it. Allowing your students to take tests with the aid of their study materials is a great way to keep them immersed in the subject matter while honing their problem-solving and research skills. Students need to know how to find the answers they need when they’re on the job and Google may not be a reliable option.
Using open-book testing, instructors can evaluate students’ understanding of information in their course texts without changing the source material. Rewording questions and altering figures without changing the basics of a question can help students grasp concepts on deeper levels. Open-book testing also gives instructors the option of allowing students to take exams home, freeing up more time for hands-on learning time in the shop.
Additional Ways to Curtail Cheating
Other tactics can also help curb cheating in your classroom. Devaluing scores on multiple choice tests and quizzes while adding value to proving competency requires students demonstrate true understanding of the materials to earn good grades. When students are motivated to engage in hands-on activities, they will be invested in real, practical learning and mastering skills rather than simply trying to figure out how to get good test scores.
If your concern is that students will share answers with each other, you can use a large pool of questions and assign them randomly, so no two students have the same test. Using a few dozen questions for any given unit makes it impractical (if not impossible) for students to cheat off each other—even if you use multiple choice questions.
Keeping students honest is in their best interest. It prepares them for real-life work where they won’t be able to cheat to the job done. Hands-on learning and open-book testing can help you encourage true mastery of your subject and avoid having to focus on short-term memorization or test-taking strategies.