Face-off: Methods of grading test student determination – just tests

Students go to college to get good grades so they can get a degree and graduate. With big projects, especially group projects, students get put under so much pressure. By having just tests, much of the stress can be taken away from daily student life.
As an education major and a future teacher, I understand the advantages of just offering tests. This kind of assessment offers a numeric indicator as to where students are in the classroom, as well as what needs to be taught more. It offers a type of communication between teacher and student, and allows the professor to know where everyone is in terms of what they’re learning.
From a student standpoint, I am currently enrolled in a class that has no tests — only a few final projects. The grade is based on discussion and participation. Sure, to some, that would be a dream type of class. No homework, just go to class and you make the grade. In my opinion, that is the worst type of grading system. I have no idea how I am doing in the class and I feel so much pressure because at the end of the semester, the grade will be a surprise and all I can do is cross my fingers and hope I’m doing OK. There is more pressure in not knowing where the grade stands than spending a few nights studying.
If only tests are offered as grade indicators, there are no surprises. You know exactly where your grade stands and exactly what you’ll need to get on the next test to get the desired grade. Many professors also offer study guides or supplemental instruction sessions to make sure the material is being understood. Why not take advantage of that and avoid any anxiety over a test? As long as students attend class, they can be on top of their schoolwork and able to ace the test. It just takes a little studying and some determination.
I understand that some students learn differently, but for the most part, by the time we hit college, we know the tricks of taking tests and we’ve learned how we study best. Tests offer a concrete way of knowing one’s progress in a class and allow students to be in control of how they do. With a little time dedicated to what’s going on in class, students can breeze through a test.
Additionally, with only tests, that time-consuming process of projects is gone. The worry of whether group members will come through, the concern of missing something in the project and the anxiety of the presentation to the class disappears. Instead, it’s a couple of nights of studying and then that stress is gone.
With a little bit of studying, having just tests can make it so that students can fully excel in their classes with minimal stress. It breaks down the classwork to the point where, with a little preparation and perseverance, a student would have to really try in order to fail.
-Tara DeLorenzo
Junior secondary education major

Printed in the 11/6/13 edition.

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