Rethinking Exams

A few weeks ago I read an interesting article titled Rethinking My Exams by Kevin Gannon, Professor of History and Director of the teaching center at Grand View University. One paragraph in particular stood out to me. Gannon wrote “Exams should challenge students and push them to demonstrate their learning. But assessment shouldn’t be weaponized (though, sadly, in some corners of academia, it is). Exams are just one tool in our assessment toolbox. And like a hammer, exams can build what we want when used well, but break things when used for the wrong purposes.”
He went on to describe how he designs exams now that map to student learning outcomes for the course, which in turn then determine the exam format as well as the specific questions he includes. As we move toward the end of the semester and start writing final exams, I hope this article provides a framework to rethink the exam structure and questions included on your final exam. And ultimately that it helps you design an assessment tool that provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate their learning in your course.
Ann Marie VanDerZanden, Director
Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching