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To add variety to student learning. Exams are a form of learning activity. They can enable students to see the material from a different perspective. They also provide feedback that students can then use to improve their understanding. To identify weaknesses and correct them. Exams enable both students and instructors to identify which areas of the material students do not understand. This allows students to seek help, and instructors to address areas that may need more attention, thus enabling student progression and improvement. To obtain feedback on your teaching.

You can use exams to evaluate your own teaching.

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To provide statistics for the course or institution. Institutions often want information on how students are doing.

How many are passing and failing, and what is the average achievement in class? Exams can provide this information. To accredit qualified students.

Certain professions demand that students demonstrate the acquisition of certain skills or knowledge. What do you want to assess? What you want to assess should be related to your learning outcomes for the course. Knowledge or how it is used. Process or product. Alternatively, you can evaluate the end product. The communication of ideas. Convergent thinking or divergent thinking.

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Or you may alternatively want them to come up with different possible answers divergent thinking. Do you expect different answers from students, or do you expect all of them to provide the same answer? Absolute or relative standards. Is student success defined by learning a set amount of material or demonstrating certain skills, or is student success measured by assessing the amount of progress the students make over the duration of the course?

How do you decide what to test and how to test it? You could: Use the topics list provided in your course outline Skim through your lecture notes to find key concepts and methods Review chapter headings and subheadings in the assigned readings What are the qualities of a good exam? A good exam gives all students an equal opportunity to fully demonstrate their learning.

With this in mind, you might reflect on the nature and parameters of your exam. Two students might know the material equally well, but one of them might not perform well under the pressure of a timed or in-class testing situation.

In such a case, what is it that you really want to assess: how well each student knows the material, or how well each performs under pressure? Likewise, it might be appropriate to allow students to bring memory aids to an exam. Again, what is it that you want to assess: their ability to memorize a formula or their ability to use and apply a formula? If you give the same exam twice to the same students, they should get a similar grade each time.

Make sure your questions address what you want to evaluate. Realistic expectations. It should also be possible to respond to all questions in the time allowed. Uses multiple question types.

Lesson Plan: 13 Final Exam

Different students are better at different types of questions. In order to allow all students to demonstrate their abilities, exams should include a variety of types of questions. Offer multiple ways to obtain full marks. Exams can be highly stressful and artificial ways to demonstrate knowledge. In recognition of this, you may want to provide questions that allow multiple ways to obtain full marks. For example, ask students to list five of the seven benefits of multiple-choice questions. Free of bias.

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Your students will differ in many ways including language proficiency, socio-economic background, physical disabilities, etc. When constructing an exam, you should keep student differences in mind to watch for ways that the exams could create obstacles for some students. For example, the use of colloquial language could create difficulties for students whose first language is not English, and examples easily understood by North American students may be inaccessible to international students.

An exam does not need to be the sole opportunity to obtain marks. Assignments and midterms allow students to practice answering your types of questions and adapt to your expectations. Transparent marking criteria.

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Students should know what is expected of them. They should be able to identify the characteristics of a satisfactory answer and understand the relative importance of those characteristics.

This can be achieved in many ways; you can provide feedback on assignments, describe your expectations in class, or post model solutions. Spread exams out over the semester. When possible, plan the exams to fit logically within the flow of the course material. It might be helpful to place tests at the end of important learning units rather than simply give a midterm halfway through the semester. For students with disabilities, exams must be amenable to adaptive technologies such as screen-readers or screen magnifiers. After the exam is ready Prepare a marking scheme or rubric Preparing a marking scheme ahead of time will allow you to review your questions, to verify that they are really testing the material you want to test, and to think about possible alternative answers that might come up.

Look at what others have done. Chances are that you are not the only person who teaches this course. Look at how others choose to assign grades. Make a marking scheme usable by non-experts. Write a model answer and use this as the basis for a marking scheme usable by non-experts. This ensures that your teaching assistants and your students can easily understand your marking scheme.

It also allows you to have an external examiner mark the response, if need be. Sharing the rubric with your students as they begin to study for the exam is also a good idea. Give consequential marks. Generally, marking schemes should not penalize the same error repeatedly. If an error is made early but carried through the answer, you should only penalize it once if the rest of the response is sound.