The Best Test Quest
With assessments now due at 11:00 PM, open notebooks, and zero scantrons in sight, it’s safe to say that testing has changed a lot this year. As with everything else in pandemic times, assessments have had to adapt, leaving students and teachers alike to adapt with them.
In prior years, the only thing about an assessment that changed the way you studied was its format: multiple choice, short answer, essay, etc. But now, in addition to varying formats, you have to approach your assessments according to what platform they’re on. Before the pandemic, many students adopted their own strategies for annotating a question, the order they answered questions, and how to check over a test. This year, many of these strategies have had to be altered to cater to the various platforms assessments are now on.
According to a survey sent out by Campus, the preferred testing platform among students is GoFormative. In addition to being clean and easy to navigate, work is saved as you go, which allows users to skip questions to come back to later. Also, GoFormative doesn’t require users to submit each question as they complete it, which means users can edit their answers. Because of these features, of the platforms that we’ve seen, GoFormative does the best job of mimicking an on-paper test, allowing students to use previously-adopted test taking techniques. However, GoFormative definitely has its shortcomings.
Many students note that uploading photos of their work to the platform is difficult and often takes lots of time away from their assessments. One student had so much trouble uploading her work to GoFormative that she had to retake her assessment later that evening. In another GoFormative photo-uploading struggle, Gabriela O'Reilly (‘23) recalls, “I was trying everything, and, of course, when I accidentally clicked on a random selfie of me, it worked perfectly, and put the selfie right into the assignment. I freaked out, but then quickly discovered that I could delete the selfie. I inserted the correct photo of my work and moved on with my day.”
“I was trying everything, and, of course, when I accidentally clicked on a random selfie of me, it worked perfectly, and put the selfie right into the assignment. I freaked out, but then quickly discovered that I could delete the selfie. I inserted the correct photo of my work and moved on with my day.”
With regard to functionality, DeltaMath is the opposite of GoFormative. While the platform provides a clean user experience, students have to submit each individual question as they complete it, meaning they can’t go back and edit previous answers. This not only prevents students from being able to check over their work, but it can also prevent students from “using the test to take the test.” Additionally, if you do some work and decide to skip over the question and return to it later, when you come back to it, all the work is lost.
According to the survey, the least liked platforms by students are the LockDown Browser and Google Forms. With Google Forms, respondents’ biggest complaint is that with the “short answer” question type, you can’t see your whole answer as you type it, which makes it a pain to look over and edit as you go. However, by choosing the “long answer” question type, you can see your whole answer as you type it, so many teachers have since used this question type to solve the problem.
On another note, while most of these platforms tend to run without glitches, Test Wizard frequently does not. Mathematical characters and images often don’t load, which can take away from the test-taker’s time, and can set a Google Classroom comment section abuzz.
And then there’s Quizizz. Finding out you were using Quizizz used to be the best news you could get in a class. It was competitive, fun, and a great break from a lecture or notes. But what used to be a sacred website for EHS students has now hurt its reputation by becoming one of the least liked platforms for assessments. As opposed to a traditional testing setting where students would have a given period of time to answer all of the questions, a Quizizz assessment gives a set period of time for each individual question. Also, on a Quizizz assessment, students can’t go back and edit their previous answers. One student notes that to him, “there is nothing more stressful than when the bar at the top of a Quizizz question is sliding down and eventually turns red. Instead of showing you a meme and a leaderboard like it would have in a regular game, it just moves you along silently.”
Not only have the types of assessments changed, but where and when we take them adds a new dynamic (or complication) to testing. For many of us, the school day no longer ends at 3:02, as some assessments are assigned for homework to be completed that night. But considering that there is far less instructional time than there would be in a normal year, it is understandable why testing sometimes can only be after school. According to the survey, roughly 70% of respondents actually prefer to be tested in this manner. Many of them feeling that at-home testing eliminates the distractions, pressure, and stress that in-person testing can bring. Of the remaining 30% of students who prefer to be tested during school hours, only half of them prefer being in person.
It’s important to note that many teachers understand the difficulties that come into play with online testing, and they’ve taken these factors into consideration. Many now add more time to assessments than they previously would have in order to account for photo uploads and almost inevitable technological mishaps. For fear of academic dishonesty,, some teachers have made their assessments “open note” so that no student enjoys an unfair advantage.
Between the different platforms, open notes, and being at home, many of us have had to almost re-learn how to take tests. But then again, these new methods of testing have brought a learning experience for both students and teachers. It will be interesting to see which, if any, aspects of testing now are used when everything returns to “normal.”