The video I have shared above encapsulates a big problem that our students face once they enter the so-called "real world." Traditionally (or at least, within the last decade or so), the primary measurement of knowledge is recorded through a series of intensive multiple-choice exams. How well does a multiple choice examination truly capture a students' intelligence anyways? One of my favorite comedians, Daniel Tosh, offers his own take on taking tests:
"Don't you love it when people in school are like, 'I'm a bad test taker.' You mean you're stupid... Oh you struggle with that part where we find out what you know?... No, I can totally relate: see, I'm a brilliant painter minus my god-awful brush strokes." (Happy Thoughts, 2011)
Certainly, Tosh is not an exemplary approach to evaluating the educative system, but for the purposes of this blog, I am providing his input as a counter-example. I would argue that the reason why many students struggle on multiple choice tests is because not all students display their knowledge effectively be circling a letter (see the dozens of authors who have written on differentiation; Tomlinson, Levine, Jackson, just to name a few). Many students and teachers would argue that a multiple choice exam is better for preparing students for the art of test-taking rather than displaying content knowledge.
So, as is the process every year for my master teacher, ample time is spent on preparing students to take a "multiple choice test," and not a "history test." Process of elimination, looking back at previous questions for contextual hints, relevancy within the test; these are all strategies we are reviewing to ensure that our students have the best chance possible to be successful when it comes to multiple choice exams. Believe me when I say it is just as boring as it sounds, and the students are not thrilled by it either. My goal is to make these activities as exciting as possible. For example, today I bought some treats from the Starbucks across the street to give to the students that perform the best in a small competition. I am hoping this will motivate the students to participate in our preparations, but only time will tell.
Until then, here is one of the multiple choice questions my students have been faced with. How would you fare?
The agricultural changes which took place in England during the 1600s contributed to England's later industrial development by
A. strengthening the importance of the family farm.
B. breaking large estates into smaller farms.
C. encouraging city dwellers to return to farming.
D. producing more food with fewer workers.
(remember, when in doubt, choose "C," right?)
(answer to the above question: D)