In the past few years, I have noticed a trend concerning final exams. It seems like now, more classes are using projects for the final instead of traditional tests. Projects seem easier than tests though, right? I took a poll of some students and the majority said they prefered projects over tests. There must be a reason why teachers have shifted over to relying more on projects, so I decided to find out.
Traditional exams with multiple choice questions and short answer problems have historically been used for content recall. Either you know the material or you don’t. However, some classes like AP and english classes have begun to up the intensity by applying critical reading skills and analysis skills to the multiple choice questions. Then there’s always the dreaded timed essay. On the other hand, english classes frequently assign more projects than any other class. Mrs. Dennis explained that the point of any test or exam is to challenge students to use higher order thinking skills. For example, while it’s important to know that America became independent in 1776, its more important to understand WHY specifically that year and HOW that affected things like their relationship with Britain etc. That will allow students to make connections and better understand what they are learning, rather than just memorizing information and repeating it like a parrot.
It has been said that the best way to understand something is to teach it to someone else. That ensures that you not only know the facts but know what it means as well. Projects are one way to do this. Projects force students to understand the material enough to be able to put it into their own words and teach it to classmates. Mr. Belan remarked that projects require critical thinking skills, collaboration, and reflection on the material learned throughout the semester that help students to better absorb what they’ve learned.
So have we been tricked into thinking that projects are easier than tests? Projects may actually make us apply our knowledge better than tests. Does this mean that projects are better and that traditional tests will become a thing of the past? Probably not, seeing as math and science classes still rely heavily on tests (what type of math project could you do anyways?). Mrs. Dennis also reminds us that each student learns differently. Between multiple choice exams, essays, projects, and speeches, demonstrating what you’ve learned can come in a variety of options and some students may do better with one option than another. It all depends on who you are and how you learn best.
Good luck with your exams this week!