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Progressive Testing: What is it and why do I care? (EMSTesting.com)

This article was previously published in our May 2013 Newsletter by Doug Smith, CEO

One of the mistakes many of us make when we prepare tests for our students is having too high of an expectation. When we finish Chapter 1, we offer the students a Chapter 1 test covering all levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, from knowledge and comprehension (the foundation) to synthesis and evaluation (the problem solving level). We then do not ask any questions regarding Chapter 1 again until the mid-term or final exam. The flaw with this system is the expectation that even though the foundation has not set, we expect them to be able to do problem solving as well, and then to further complicate the issues, we expect them to learn from their mistakes and remember that at a later date.

Progressive testing follows more of a constructive process. To understand the flow, look at the following example:

Prior to covering Chapter 1 in class, offer the students a knowledge and comprehension level test on Chapter 1. You could even consider allowing them to use their books. This may even encourage the students to open their books prior to class. You willthen be able to review where they are weak on their foundation and address these issues. You can then cover the Chapter 1 material by focusing on the application and analysis levels.

After covering Chapter 1 and prior to covering Chapter 2, offer a test with the following parameters: Chapter 1 test questions that were missed by a significant number of students, Chapter 1 application and analysis level questions, and finally Chapter 2 knowledge and comprehension level questions. Then when the class covering Chapter 2 convenes, cover the questions missed by a significant number of students. Then lecture on Chapter 1 level synthesis evaluation material and Chapter 2 application and analysis level questions.

After covering Chapter 2 and prior to covering Chapter 3, offer a test covering the Chapter 2 test questions that were missed by a significant number of students, the Chapter 1 synthesis and evaluation level questions, Chapter 2 application and analysis level questions, and Chapter 3 knowledge and comprehension level questions. Then cover the questions missed by a significant number of students, Chapter 2 synthesis and evaluation level questions and Chapter 3 application and analysis level questions.

Following this procedure through your program will allow students to see material they find difficult a number of times, and will also expose them to higher Bloom levels when they are ready for the final exam.