My argumentative essay shows the reasons why tests help students’ academic performance and shows reasons why they hinder student’s performance. If one can explore both sides of this argument, one may be able to correctly conclude as to if academic grading via academic tests is helpful to a student’s academic performance.
Tests and grading may force a student to comprehend a concept. The idea that there are consequences to learning or not-learning a concept may prompt students to try to learn. It may force students to take steps towards comprehending a concept rather than simply exposing themselves to the concept. Grades act as a consequence to learning, which means a student may take more time and effort when learning a concept. (Rinsland, 1937)
Some students are bad test takers. Some students are receiving poor grade because they are bad at taking tests and not because they have failed to understand a concept. Sadly, since students are going to pass or fail based on their tests, it is likely that a student who is a bad test taker will also fail at the end of his or her qualification. On the other hand, if a student is a poor test taker and is receiving poor grades, then that student may experiment with learning how to improve his or her test-taking skills. Grading may actually help a poor test taker learn that he or she is a poor test taker, and that his or her test-taking skills are the problem.
Tests may force students to revise more. Grades are a consequence of tests, and if a student knows a test is coming, then that student may take on extra revision. The threat of a bad grade may make a student try to comprehend concepts and may push the student the extra step towards extra revision so that the concepts are both understood and remembered. (Needlessly, 1987)
An increasingly common problem with testing and grading is that colleges and higher-education establishments are having to manage their reputation. This means they need to produce students who score well. This gives such establishments a very good reason to make tests easier and to make grading a little more lax. Grading may become a tool of the educational establishment so that it may make itself appear more effective than it actually is. (Brookhart, 1993)
If a student takes a test that is graded, and the student cares about the grade, then the student will try a little harder. A teacher or professor may look at the test and see where the student has misunderstood a concept that was explained. There are many areas where a simple misunderstanding can yield what appears to be a correct answer. For example, a student may say that the US civil war was about slavery, which is correctly, but may also think that the war started because of slavery, which is incorrect, yet such a misunderstanding may cause the student to lose marks in a real exam. (Gronlund, 1970)
Grading students based on a test is fine in theory, but one must examine the quality of the exam. One of the biggest criticisms of IQ tests is that the quality of the test always affects the end result, which can lead to people appearing to be more intelligent than they are. (Jakob, 1987)
If used correctly, exams and grades can help to improve a student’s performance, and it may help a teacher or professor hone his or her teaching skills. If a teacher/professor is aware of the downsides to testing and grades, and if he or she is aware of the possible flaws relating to tests and grades, then grading and tests may be used in moderation to help improve a student’s performance.
Brookhart, Susan M. “Teachers’ grading practices: Meaning and values.” Journal of Educational Measurement 30.2 (1993): 123-142.
Gronlund, Norman E. “Stating Behavioral Objectives for Classroom Instruction.” (1970).
Jakob, R. P., H. U. Staubli, and J. T. Deland. “Grading the pivot shift. Objective tests with implications for treatment.” Bone & Joint Journal 69.2 (1987): 294-299.
Nedelsky, Leo. “Absolute grading standards for objective tests.” Educational and Psychological Measurement 14.1 (1954): 3-19.
Rinsland, Henry Daniel. “Constructing tests and grading in elementary and high school subjects.” (1937).