Professor Joe Hoyle (University of Richmond) makes a case against tests based on memorization stating that, “No matter what students or faculty tell you, students learn based on how they are tested and graded.”
One way he emphasizes this is by telling his students they can bring in one page of notes to the exam:
“I allow the students to bring one full page (front and back) of notes to the test. I have found that this policy was good for both them and me. Creating that page of notes helps students to assess what is most important in the coverage. They only have one page so they have to consider seriously what to include. And, it clearly points out to them that I am looking for something more than memorization. There is no reason to memorize anything if you can write it down on a sheet of paper and bring it with you. But, I think I am actually the real beneficiary. If you know the students are sitting there with a page of notes, you cannot fall back on memorization questions. You force yourself to go beyond what they have written down—to think of what use can be made of that information. How can you test real understanding? Consequently, I have come to really enjoy writing tests because it is a challenge and a puzzle to push them beyond their sheet of paper.”
As he notes, "Students will learn based on how they expect to be tested. Take advantage of that."
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