Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Examining the Exam

It is time to find out if a year's worth of inspirational speeches, multiplication games, and extra help classes have been worth it. It is time to discover if lasting learning has taken place. Today my seventy Class V students wrote their final exam:

This is the (first) stack of papers I get to correct. So far I have marked only the multiple choice component:

Confession: I love statistics. I think that testing benefits teachers only when they take the time to thoroughly analyse the results. If we teach students to make double bar graphs we can certainly make them ourselves:

More useful than comparing the total scores of groups of students, though, is computing each question's individual success rate. I know I have effectively communicated the difference between "perimeter" and "area" because this was the question answered correctly by the most students:

I know I did not spend enough time on the relationship between fractions and decimals, though, because this result shows not only a lack of understanding (33% of random guess generators would have gotten it correct) but misunderstanding:

The results of these identity questions unsurprisingly indicates that students are clearer about the idea of multiplication than the idea of division:

Comparing the successes of my two class sections yielded the most alarming result of my analysis. The differences were negliable for all topics that I did not review in the days immediately preceeding the exam. On the two topics for which we very recently did in-class practice questions, though, there was a strong disparity between the sections, with each class faring better when the exam question was more similar to the example we did on the board. I interpret this as evidence of shallow understanding of these topics and overreliance on cramming:

I was very pleased that over half of my students correctly answered the next question. It is proof that our art project, which is the only work we did on tesselations, was educational as well as enjoyable. I like having statistics to back up my teaching style when questioned by sceptics.

Digging into the data as extensively as I have strikes most people as "crazy" and outrageously time-consuming. I contest, however, that I now know what to tell the Class VI teacher to focus on next year and which topics to teach differently in my future classes. What do you think? Do I have a promising future in educational research?


  1. Tony also loves Statistics. I wish I had studied them more (instead, I devoted my time to Calculus during undergrad).

    Did you calculate all of these stats by hand?! When you return to the Western world, I'm sure we can find you a program that would do this for you.

  2. That was an incredible post, Kendra! Oh please be an educational researcher!! :D

  3. I used Excel to get the statistics but made the bar graphs in Powerpoint "by hand" because they're prettier when I do it that way.