Saturday, January 21, 2012

Testing as a Learning Tool

Almost two years ago, I published an article about testing as a method of teaching in my blog The Electronic Professor. In the article, I shared my experience in using frequent online tests in my anatomy & physiology courses as a way to get students engaged with the material on an ongoing basis.

Almost a year later, research published in Science further supported this idea.  Not that I needed the support . . . my own experience over several years has confirmed for me that it works.  In fact, it works VERY well in enhancing student learning.  But as a scientist, a variety of independent confirmations of a topic is appreciated.

Of course, the concept of frequent, online formative testing (as opposed to summative testing) is not at all new.  But like a lot of breakthroughs in teaching and learning, it hasn't caught on with many professors "out in the trenches" yet.  But it's really worth taking a look at.

First, check out my article from 2009 to get an idea of what I'm talking about.
Teaching as Testing
Kevin Patton
The Electronic Professor. 27 Feb 2009.
[Article outlining my use of online, randomized formative tests in teaching A&P.]
Then check out the seminar that I gave on this topic a few years ago.
Seminar: Testing as Teaching
Kevin Patton
The A&P Professor. Accessed Jan 2012.
[Narrated presentation outlining a method to produce randomzed formative tests for A&P.]

After that, take a look at the research published in Science a year ago.
To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test
Pam Belluck
The New York Times. 20 January 2011.
[Brief summary of the research, including a graph of the results.] 

Retrieval Practice Produces More Learning than Elaborative Studying with Concept Mapping
J.D. Karpicke, J. R. Blunt
Science. Published Online January 20 2011. DOI: 10.1126/science.1199327

[Original research mentioned above.]

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