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I am a college professor in the American education system and find that the major concern of my students is trying to determine the specific techniques or problems which I will ask on the exam. This is the typical "will this be on the test?" question.

I find this to be a major detraction from students education. Students seem to have the notion that they can discard a lot of ideas and just memorize a few specific problems in order to pass the class. Given the philosophy of some teachers to "teach to the test" when in a standardized testing environment, this does not surprise me.

This stressful approach to education seems to make student overlook major themes in each class and themes in the subject as a whole. Even worse, once they land in classes like calculus 3 and real analysis, the effects of this point of view rears its head in an ugly way.

My question is:

How can we turn students away from this way of thinking?

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closed as off-topic by Grigory M, LTS, Dirk, robjohn Jan 9 '14 at 19:16

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question is not about mathematics, within the scope defined in the help center." – Grigory M, LTS, robjohn
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Whenever they ask "will this be on the test?", say yes. –  Michael Albanese Jan 8 '14 at 15:19
@MichaelAlbanese Of course, but that does not change the way they think. –  mtiano Jan 8 '14 at 15:20
Eliminate testing, problem solved. –  GPerez Jan 8 '14 at 15:22
@GPerez i do not mean to be rude, but your proposition is impractical for this problem. –  Lost1 Jan 8 '14 at 15:32
My teacher solves the problem quite neatly. He teaches his own courses that he came up with, and writes his own tests, filling them with problems that test every aspect of everything he taught us each week, to the point where it is no longer even possible for someone to pass the tests by memorizing things, only by understanding. Q:What's on the test? A:Black toner. Q:What do we need to know for the test? A:All the math you have ever learned. Q:Do I need to know X for the test? A:Yes. –  AJMansfield Jan 8 '14 at 19:38

31 Answers 31

Thank you for asking :) That rarely happens anymore.

Pass students based on quality of project based learning which encompasses the things you want students to learn.

  • In high school I was part of US FIRST Robotics students were there every day working their butts off learning programming and all sort of math that go into that stuff. When it came time to compete not a single person asked what would be on the test. Our project had to be able to compete well in the arena and work with a team. http://www.usfirst.org/

  • In web development NO ONE reads a book and then takes a test to learn a new framework or language. People learn by DOING not READING. When I start using a framework or language guess what happens, the reading naturally occurs because I want to learn and I'm building a project.

When I was in Computer Science they taught us from a book and then tested us, what a gawd awful way to learn I hated it and dropped out. I'm now involved in my business and build our software I love it and I love learning!

Leave test driven development to programming, humans are creative not machines, with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate - the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!

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protected by Asaf Karagila Jan 9 '14 at 18:19

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