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Understanding different types of tests in education

Understanding different types of tests in education

Suppose you've ever been to any educational center. In that case, you know or must have interacted with a teaching and testing system. Situations like when teachers teach a course then provide a test or when instructors give tests before their lectures. Or even combined the two situations.

Of course, various teachers would test their students. Still, most instructors create tests to help measure or gauge their students’ levels of understanding of certain learning materials. And there are more to the advantages of educational testing, which this articles covers.

Also, we have explained some of the different types of tests in the education sector and how you can effectively create them

But first,

What is educational testing? 

Educational testing determines students' knowledge, skills, and experience of particular course material or content through tests or examinations. They aim to quantify what learners know or understand.

What is the importance of educational testing? 

At any school level, educators are issuing tests to evaluate their students' skill learning and growth or academic achievements. Therefore testing help;

Identify students’ strengths and weaknesses: Through testing, students know the areas they need to put more effort into. Also, it gives teachers a view of what or areas they need to stress for better student understanding.

Learners become strong test-takers. It’s common for some students to experience test anxiety. So the best strategy for copping test anxiety is through encouraging students to take more exams and tests.

The more testing is done, the more comfortable and familiar the students will feel, thus improving their test performance. Besides, they’ll easily manage to perform under any exam pressure.

Testing help measure effectiveness. There are areas and situations when school funding was determined by students’ performance on certain or state examinations. Also, some states used students' or general students’ performances to promote or give merit raises to teachers.

Help determine awards and recognitions. Most learning institutions have used test results to choose who they give prizes. Some students would be lucky to get a scholarship, especially when they perform well on the National Merit Scholar tests.

Tests help determine academic progress and ensure instructors and parents know their students' academic progress. For instance, good test results will mean growth, while poor results indicate that more is needed to help meet the learning goals.

So, the instructor will have to reshuffle or focus on more interactive, intense, and effective teaching techniques that will help build good results.

How can you create effective educational tests?

Testing is essential in the teaching and learning process. As the instructor, you're responsible for ensuring your students understand the course material for adequate performance.

To achieve your various learning objectives, you must create effective tests. Here are some of the simple guidelines for creating tests:

Identify your course objective

It may seem obvious, but course goals or objectives are the first things every instructor should consider when creating tests or examinations. So, revisit the overall learning goal and devise tests or questions that will help evaluate the learning desired goals or outcomes.

Immediately you identify the kind of goal you want to measure, then create questions that best fulfill the objectives.

Provide direct, clear or unambiguous instructions

You don’t need to show your learners how experienced you are using more detailed instructions and big terms. Or using convoluted and complex sentences, idiomatic expressions, and double-negative statements. Instead, be clear and let students know exactly what you’re looking for.

So, explicitly explain your expectations so that students don't assume you're running them into some problems or trap. Preferably, articulate your expectations to your students before they sit for the different types of tests in education.

Determine test design or structure

Like learning techniques, students have loved certain test structures more than others. So, to appeal to many students, ensure you draw some questions and test structure from different testing methods.

Even better, create a single exam that includes multiple types of questions from single to multiple-choice, matching, and true or false questions. This will help measure a range of skills.

Types of test in education

Instructors can use various types of tests to achieve their learning and course objectives or goals. We can have:

Diagnostic testing

This test type is used to identify what the learners know about a certain concept beforehand.

In other words, it’s a pre-test that helps instructors determine the students' knowledge, strengths, and weaknesses before the instruction. In other words, they allow instructors to see the levels of students’ proficiency before instructions. This test is usually given at the start of a course and covers what the teachers are to teach in the coming days.

Most teachers have also used diagnostic testing to guide their lesson and curriculum planning. With the diagnostic results, teachers will spend more time on the areas they feel the students struggle with or challenge them most.

The diagnostic testing results will also make parents aware of the type of content their kids receive. Parents can anticipate the areas and skills their kids may have trouble doing.

Objective tests

These are tests in which performances are measured against a specific standard set of answers. For instance, there are right and wrong answers.

Examples of objective tests include:

  • Multiple-choice tests

In these types of tests, a statement of fact is made, followed by other alternatives; they can be four or five. Out of these five options, four are distractors, and only the correct or the best choice should be selected.

This type of questioning is effective as it can help measure different learning techniques. They are also easy to score and can prove one of the most effective testing tools. It can, however, be hard to construct or deploy those questions that measure higher critical thinking, especially with a higher number of distractors.

  • Matching

As the name suggests, these types of tests in education only require students to match two sets of items that either form meaning or relate with each other. These tests help determine and evaluate students’ ability to distinguish the similarities or associations between symbols or objects.

These tests are most commonly used when the course work contains several concepts like:

  • Definitions of terms
  • Pictures, objects, and labels
  • Causes and effects
  • Scenarios and their responses
  • Principles and situations to which they apply

 

  •       True or false

Instructors make a factual or wrong statement with true or false items. Students respond on the correctness of the sentence or information. They’re easy to create and can test a variety of topics.  

Subjective tests

These are tests without a definite evaluation method. Instead, they are evaluated based on the opinion or judgment of the instructor or examiner.  

The tests present learners with writing prompts or questions for which they have to demonstrate their mastery of different learning objectives or goals in their responses.

When creating subjective tests, it's important that instructors clearly and precisely phrase the questions to elicit the kind of answers or skills they would want to measure.

Examples of subjective tests are:

  • Problem-solving questions
  • Performance tests
  • Essays; short-answer and extended-response essays. Though essays are time-consuming to administer or score, they effectively measure higher cognitive skills.

Formative testing

Formative tests are the types of tests in education that are used or given to learners throughout the teaching or lecture process to demonstrate that the students have understood the course

Summative tests

These are tests used at the end of the year or course material to assess how much knowledge students have acquired and how much they know or can do. It covers everything about the learning material, from the first page to the ideas of the last pages.

These types of tests in education aim to evaluate the overall students learning ad compare it against some benchmarks or standards. They’re usually high stakes with a high point value. Examples of summative tests include:

  • Midterm or end-of-term tests and exams
  • End of chapter or unit tests
  • Cumulative tasks like a final project that goes for a certain extended period
  • Standardized tests to demonstrate institutional accountability like the admission and progressive tests that takes students to the next class or level of education

Conclusion

There are various types of tests in education, from subjective, objective, summative, and formative to diagnostic tests. These tests help gauge students’ knowledge and levels of understanding of the course materials. Tests also offer a basis used for rewards and recognition.

Whichever type of test you decide, ensure to create tests whose score marks will relate to or help measure the learning objectives it was meant to evaluate.

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