Tests that Teach

Published on: Author: bette 1 Comment

I called my daughter this morning as she was on her way to take her final in Anatomy and Physiology at Redwood Community College in Eureka, CA.   She sounded relaxed and actually excited about taking the test two days early.    Her words were something like this:   “You would  like this guy, Mom . . . he’s really interested in our LEARNING this stuff!”


Isn’t it strange that to her that seems unusual?


She explained by saying that all of the tests are essay . . .  so that they really need to understand the material rather than relying on “multiple guess.”   She went on to give me an example of what happened during the last test.   At one point she became confused about which of two chemicals functioned a certain way.   He encourages students to come up during the test to discuss problems they are having.   When she went up he didn’t give her the answer . . . but instead asked her a question that made her remember the context in which it was originally taught.   Not only did she remember immediately . . .  several weeks later she was able to explain the whole physical process to me!


As she said . . . her teacher loves the “light bulb moment”! I wish all teachers felt that way!!!


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  1. It is strange that more teachers aren’t like this. I also have a microbiology teacher that relies on power points to do most of the teaching. I leave class with so many questions– mostly, wondering how it all connects. When I read the text, it helps a little, but not with what the instructor is trying to get at. Usually, AFTER I finish the exams (mostly scan-tron), I realize that the instructor has not covered the information completely in her lectures or labs. It’s more like a lesson in psychology– realizing what she’s mentioned about her own Ph.D. thesis, I’ve tried to study all I can on what seems to interest her. Luckily, she talks enough about her own life to make it clear that I need to buff up on water testing (she has a well for water on her property), animal vectors (diseases transmitted by critters- she’s an animal lover), and flesh-eating bacteria (her thesis). It’s a guessing game with the world of microbiology being such an enigma anyway.

    As for the physiology, the instructor I appreciate will take the time to completely review entire topics if he feels there is confusion. He has his lectures on video for us to take home. His lecturing has not changed much in the 36 years he’s been at College of the Redwoods (except for the new information gained in the field of human physiology). Best of all, he has not let a reliance on technology make him lazy in his teaching. He still writes everything out by hand on the board! And, yes, he actually WILL give an answer during a test if it means producing more knowledgeable nurses and healthcare professionals. His main goal seems to be sending us off with an understanding of how to best care for people– a few points given on an exam don’t matter in the long run.

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