I am going to start off this post by answering the question whether tests are necessary or not. My answer is yes. Tests are extremely helpful in gathering information about students progress for both the students and the teacher. However, I am not talking about standard tests. Why is that?
The biggest reason is the frequency in which students are tested. Let us assume that you have a standard test after 30-50 lessons. This is no way near frequent enough for providing results on students’ progress. If after 30-50 lessons you find out that a student has not learned the content, it is way overdue to start fixing the problem. Standard tests are therefore not an opportunity for students to learn, but a way for teachers to grade students.
So how often should students be tested in order to get frequently enough information about their progress and how can tests become a learning experience? The frequency of course depends on the topic at hand, but let us say on average once a week. Let us assume that a teacher has a hundred students and the tests are made in such a way that you only need five minutes to process each student’s test. This adds up to eight hours of work for the teacher. You cannot ask a teacher to do this kind of work manually every week and this is a big reason why this kind of testing has not been possible, until now.
Well designed electronic books in mathematics can offer digital tests that offer a great learning opportunity for students. In “Matematik.fi / Ma.fi” there are many digital tests, so that students can be frequently tested on every topic. These digital tests also provide the students and the teacher with instant detailed results.
So how do the tests work? In short, the tests consist of questions with alternatives. When you finish the test, the incorrectly answered alternatives will immediately be displayed. In this way the students can try to correct their errors themselves before seeking help from others.
These tests are widely popular among students. The reason for this is because when students are frequently tested and continually receive feedback that they have learned, they gain confidence in their mathematical abilities as well as in their ability to learn. It does not even matter if a few mistakes are made, since the purpose with these tests are to make sure that they learn and making mistakes is a part of the learning process.
Interactive digital tests help the teacher to gather information about his students’ progress. They also offer immediate feedback to the students on how well they have learned something new and if there is something that requires more work. This information that is provided for both the teacher and the students is extremely valuable in the learning process. This is why testing students is necessary as long as it is done in the purpose of learning.
Are you interested in learning more about these digital tests and perhaps even try them out with your students? Then please visit Ma.fi (available in English, Swedish and Finnish)
Ps. The exercises in the tests are meant to be calculated on paper before filling in the answers digitally. To make sure that students do this a separate notebook can be handed out for these tests. This way the teacher can quickly see if the tests have been calculated properly.