What do teachers, parents, and students learn after a class test in school?
If a child scores well,
- Parents feel proud, congratulate themselves for the genes they have given to their child, justify the expenses of private coaching classes, and tell the child that she could have done even better.
- The child thinks that despite all the odds at home and in the school, she has done well and feels good – the world is not a bad place.
If a child does badly,
- Parents are angry with the child, teacher, the school, the education system and the society in general. How they express this differs from person t person, situation to situation. They start enquiring which private tutor makes students score better.
- The child thinks that the whole system has been unfair, including the children who have scored better in the test.
If the whole class has performed well, the principal and the teacher think that the school is teaching well and if a few children have not performed satisfactorily, the fault is with the parents and those children. If the whole class performs badly, the blame is still on parents, students, distractions of the media and attractions of the growing age.
Test and exam scores are part of the feedback mechanism on
- Quality of learning culture at home and in school.
- Effectiveness of teaching. The case is not about how well the teachers have taught, but how much the students have grasped.
Feedbacks in a system shape future actions. To decide on appropriate actions, we have to understand meaning of the feedback. A wrongly interpreted feedback can trigger unhelpful actions.
Let us discuss the results of a class test in Physics for class-10. The structure of the question paper was
- Part-A with 4 questions, each with 5 parts, each part carrying 2 marks. No choice.
- Part-B with 6 questions, each with 3 parts. Answer any 4.
Let us look how the students fared in question 1. As summarised in the table below, out of 10 marks, student-1 has scored 4 and certainly requires serious attention. Students 2, 3, and 6 also need to do better, paying attention to the topic where they have scored poor.
Question on Potential Energy has the lowest class average of 0.67 out of 2. 4 students have scored zero on this. The teacher has to revise the concept thoroughly as most the students have not understood it. The teacher may claim that she has already taught it the best, and the students have to revise. That is not fair argument as the feedback shows that the students have not understood the lesson. Teacher has to pay some attention to Snell’s Law and Dispersion. The students have understood Wave Characteristics and Kinds of Wires well.
The paper had 33 more questions, which we can analyse similarly. We would then suggest actions for teachers, students and parents.
In Part-B, students had to answer 4 out of 6 questions.
- Questions 5 and 10: all the students have answered.
- Questions 7: 5 out of 6 students have answered. 1 case of ‘Not Answered.’
- Questions 6, 8 and 9: 3 out of 6 students have answered. 9 cases if ‘Not Answered.’
This is a feedback to the teacher that topics covered in questions 6, 8 and 9 may not be clear to the students.
The above analysis would get better in a larger class. We can find several useful patterns. This post has discussed an approach taking a small sample, and is not a research paper. We would know the value of the analysis if a few schools try this out.
Students can enter data for this kind of analysis, looking at their own scores. In the process, they would get a better understanding of their strong and weak points. They would be able to seek help where they need.