Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Worldwide Test for Higher Education?

Original Article - quite few links to reports done by OECD

Summary goes here!
I like Don Langenberg's attitude and I do have a science background.

I agree that the work is difficult but if we just stopped, based on our knowledge of today, we missed all possibilities.

As for K12, I have to say teacher is not the only one should judge the success of NCLB. This apply to Higher Ed too, instructor is not the only one involved.

To me, science could be a good place to start. Most of the undergraduate science courses are heavy on 'knowledge' and can partially offset people's arguments against standardized test, even though, in my view, knowledge is totally relevant to 'critical thinking' and the success of education.

Standardized test is constantly under attack because, in people's mind, they think it can only test facts. But that is not the fact! Even though the test takers' action is limited to pick answers from a given set, the process in reaching that decision is roughly the same(for science at least) to question that requires outline each steps. I also like to point out that standardized test can still be a very useful tool if you spend time and think about it. A simple test like (2+3*5)^2 can actually tell you a lot about a kid's ability.

The association of coaching with standardized test is also misleading. As a person that went through all these 'coaching' process when I grow up, I can tell you the differences between coaching and learning. Coaching does not work but learning does. The question is what do you call coaching? To me, I am learning, not be coached! I spent time solving problems and I adjust my understanding of the reading material when my answer isn't right - it's much like what you do with the exercise questions in the textbook, admittedly I did more reading and more exercises - which I considered hard working, not coaching.

There are what I will call the 'coaching' that happening in the 'coaching' institute. But I don't think it works. I got classmates that picking answers based on coaching skill like: don't pick a answer that so stand out from others. As you can see, that really won't help much.

Coaching can happen on all kind of tests, not just the standardized test. People also have to be careful in using the word 'coaching' as it could very well mean learning. By the way, I don't see people blame athlete been coached - without hard work, how much impact coach will help?

For social sciences, this could be a difficult task. For natural sciences, at undergraduate level, I don't see much of a problem.

For the most part, undergraduate nature science courses are still in the knowledge acquisition level. Thinking are promoted. But the knowledge probably still account a great deal of the learning. Tests that designed to measure these shouldn't be too difficult.

Personally, my major concern is the price of the higher ed. With the system we have today, the likely hood of getting competitively priced career training is hard to come by. There are several reason for that.

The most important question is do industries really know what they are looking for? Can they put these requirement down in a much objective form?

1. High school did not provide the needed career training meeting industries' need. There are several possible issues here. Do business really know what they want? Is it possible for high school to produce graduates that meeting industries' need?

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