As a student, I have encountered a lot of exams, some are nerve-wrecking, some are not. But mostly, I detest exams that require memorization of facts. I am more at ease with application and analysis-based exams. Maybe the reason was that I am not a bookworm (though I love reading storybooks), I used to procrastinate a lot and usually resort to cramming before exam day (a very typical student who doesn’t have enough time to memorize all the concepts covered in the exam), and lastly, I am not good in guessing (maybe because I sometimes have wild imaginations that interfere with my logical thinking, I don’t know).
Bottomline, I would prefer doing problem solving than multiple choice/ true-or-false/ enumeration/ matching type combined, anytime. Answering essay tests is torture to me as well, since I was not a skillful writer as a young student, though I would like to believe that I have improved a lot as an adult learner, attributing this to everyday practice in my previous job.
So, needless to say, Math and I are meant for each other, we’re destined to be together for life. In Math, my analytical abilities come to surface and shine brightly. Memorizing formula becomes easy as I get to use and apply them to so many problems, employing deep level processing and embedding them in my long term memory. I guess that’s one of the many beauties of math, you absolutely must not forget a concept even after the test, for the next lesson is likely linked with the previously learned concept. Unlike most facts and trivia where students hardly remember them after the test because they are not used in the succeeding topics anymore.
Sadly however, I don’t share this feelings towards math with the majority of the school community, much less my students. I have to innovate ways to engage my students in listening to my daily lectures so that at the end of every day, they take something new from me (constructivist approach). I have to make them appreciate the practical applications of math in their lives so that they’ll find meaning in learning them (intrinsic motivation). If I have to constantly give them short quizzes just to assess what they have learned so far and make any misconceptions visible, I will do it (formative assessment). They won’t hate me for it (I hope so), because I will explain my purpose and discuss my intention of dropping maybe one or two low exam scores. But I will make sure that my exams discriminate those who actively, eagerly study their lessons from those who don’t (properly crafted test items). Meaningful feedbacks will be given to both types of learners, with the intention of sustaining and/or increasing their motivation to study. It is my greatest dream that someday, my students will share my same passion towards math, that they will realize that the greatest barrier to learning math or learning in general, is attitude, and I am here to help them change that attitude. Together we shall conquer the world.