Correcting students – how often is too often?
Diary submitted by Zoe DP. Valencia
What is the most effective way of testing students?
‘The most effective way to test student understanding is to do it while the lesson’s still going on’ (Briggs, 2014)
First and foremost, it should be noted that the most effective way of testing a student depends on the context of what they are being tested for – whether this be specifically for an exam or for the understanding of grammar rules in general lessons. In this reflective diary I will be focusing on the latter, using examples from a class I took recently.
With regard to general lessons, in which there is a focus on a specific aspect of grammar, I think it is important to reinforce the information the student has learnt throughout the lesson by testing their knowledge before the class ends while the information is still fresh in their mind. I had an incidence the other day in which the class was dedicated to conditional clauses and the student straight away said they were confident in their understanding of this topic. However, I made sure to go over the 4 conditionals in the beginning of the lesson anyway, just so that they were aware of how they were structured and in what situations you would use each one. When it came to the end of the lesson, in which we were doing an exercise where I had to say the beginning of a sentence and they had to invent the rest of the phrase with the correct conditional clause, the student struggled with which to use. Therefore, I went back to what I had said in the beginning of the class and showed her my notes on each of the clauses. For example, saying “’If I had studied harder, I would have done better in the exam’ = past perfect + would + present perfect. Used when expressing regret” and then asking the student to give me an example using the same form. After going through this for 5 minutes or so I could see the student felt more confident and was able to create phrases accurately with little effort, so we returned to the exercises in the book. This time round the student seemed a lot more comfortable in finishing the sentences and would occasionally mutter “past simple + would + present simple”, and so on, indicating she had understood the rules and when to use them.
Testing, in this way as well as in others, can be very helpful for the teachers since it allows us to see how our students are progressing and where they might need a little more help. However, can also, as Richard Frost stated: ‘give students a sense of accomplishment […] and have a positive effect in that they encourage students to review material covered on the course’ (Frost, 2005).
- Briggs, S. (2014). 21 Ways to Check for Student Understanding – InformED. [online] InformED. Available at: https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/21-ways-to-check-for-student-understanding/ [Accessed 14 Jan. 2018].
- Frost, R. (2005). Testing and assessment. [online] TeachingEnglish | British Council | BBC. Available at: https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/testing-assessment [Accessed 14 Jan. 2018].