I’m starting to plan some formal assessments but, because it’s my first time, I’m not exactly sure if I’m creating a test correctly. Do you have any advice? —L., Nebraska
The notion of a fair test is an important tenet in science and we strive to teach our students how to develop unbiased data collection for the purpose of making sound conclusions about phenomena. This should also extend to the science teacher—developing fair, unbiased assessments that allow you to make a sound conclusion of what your students have learned. Here are just a few ideas on formal assessments that I have used and a few suggestions to help you along:
Try to build some success for all your students. Work from easy to hard questions.
- Fill-in-the-blanks: place the blank at the end of the sentence.
- Multiple Choice: Avoid “None of the above” or “All of the above”
- Assessments should not be a punishment. This includes ‘snap’ quizzes.
- Don’t surprise students with questions completely different from what they have seen before. (I can discuss exceptions to this in another blog.)
- Do not try to trick students with double negatives, complicated wording, etc.
- Set one copy of a test aside to take notes on how the test went: mistakes, ambiguous wording, etc. Fix mistakes as soon as possible or you’ll forget. Record how long it took for the first, median, and the last tests to be handed in and adjust the length accordingly.
Hope this helps!