Should schools get rid of traditional testing, have fewer tests, or stay the way they are?
Sunday, January 30, 2011
I think that SparkNotes and Cliff’s Notes are useful as a supplement to reading the material. In my experience with using them in my own education, they reinforce important ideas and themes that can sometimes be missed, despite how closely you read a text. In particular, Sparknote’s No Fear Shakespeare actually helped me understand and become a fan of Shakespeare, no matter how much that may upset Shakespeare purists.
In regards to “lazy” students using them, I think they can only be misused on fact-based exams on the text. Sparknotes gives you enough information to understand setting, plot, main characters, etc, which is all of the basics that would be on a objective text. However, usually literature tests are essay-based. Often, just reading the Sparknotes is apparent in the student’s writing. I’m not ashamed to admit that I ran into a time crunch in my advanced Lit class in high school and only read the Sparknotes, and was called out by the teacher for only knowing the “surface” of the novel.
If Sparknotes is combined with a thorough, critical reading of the text, I believe that they can enhance the understanding of the novel, and make it easier to dissect and fully understand. Besides, at least the student is actually reading rather than watching a horrible film adaptation (ex. Demi Moore in The Scarlet Letter).
Has anyone else used these improperly and not receive a good grade? Or am I off, and it's possible to do well by only reading the summaries?
Being one in a sea of hundreds of students in a class makes it possible to just show up and not critically think about anything that is being conveyed. In those types of classes, a student probably only has to learn for the test, which very well could be online and therefore, probably open book. It seems that student’s are paying a lot more than a MCLA student to essentially go through the motions.
Although a student in a large college should be conscientious of their own studies, chances are they probably won’t be, and since they’re not being encouraged to go above and beyond to learn, they won’t.
After watching the State of the Union, President Obama stressed education as crucial to the US remaining a strong force ahead of the game. Having students that are going to college, but not actually critically becoming better at anything, is not progress. Although large universities are necessary due to the large numbers of students seeking higher education, I think institutions should work to make class sizes reasonable. Students should be seen as more than money, and the students should ensure that they are being treated than more than a tuition payment. Also, those professors of the large classes should be focusing on instilling as much information as possible to the students, not just throwing it out there to get it done.
Despite what large universities can offer, I think small colleges and universities are still the better choice to ensure critical learning is achieved. Large classes just create logistical problems that make it tough to demand quality thought and reasoning.