Jonny Berliner - science through song


Opinions and reflections on the dissemination of science from a science troubadour, educator and sci ed researcher.

Posts tagged exams
Exams - a measure of what?

Exam season is upon us. Anxious students are cramming an impossible amount of content to revise, and anxious parents either worry about their children's anxiety or that they aren't anxious enough to do the revision they should be doing. Teachers are anxious about whether they managed to cram in enough revision lessons and school heads are anxious that their results will be better than last year. It's the climax of the school year and exams are the ends for which almost all educational means are justified. "Why do I need to learn this?" ask the students. "Because it will be in the exam.", replies the teacher. And whilst almost everyone agrees that exams are unpleasant, we rarely question the fact that they are the best way achieve their aims. Much has been written about the problematic effects of high stakes examinations, particularly by John White, on their deleterious effect on student wellbeing and their tendency to destroy curiosity by making students only value knowledge that leads to exam success. It is generally accepted that the benefits must outweigh the costs. After all, educational reform after educational reform keeps GCSEs and A levels exactly the same in any meaningful sense. The latest reforms, with the harder-to-achieve top grades, extra content and extra emphasis on memorised facts actually make all problems associated with high-stakes examinations worse. So what is so great about exams?

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