Testing of Students

Testing of students is a time-honored method of assessing student performance. Questions put to students in a testing situation may measure knowledge, intellegance, creativity, skill, or problem solving ability. While question difficulty is the largest factor in measuring the outcome of a test, many other factors may influence the results. Factors such as time allowances, verbal labeling, student motivation, and instruction type all influence results. These factors must be taken into account when testing is used to measure student success.

Time allowances for tests effect students psychologically. Students feel more pressure when timed and may or may not respond favorably to this pressure. Allowing only a certain amount of time for students may be beneficial or harmful to many students. The stress of this constraint leads students to perform faster, but leads them to guess more than they would in an untimed situation. Older students tend to handle timed situations better than untimed situations, and perform better on those tests. (Brooks, 2003) Extra time does tend to help handicapped students substantially. (McKevitt, 2000) The stress placed on students effects their test scores.

Student motivation also has a great impact in testing. Students who believe that they will score better on tests usually do. Older students tend to have more of a problem with this than younger students do. This effect is most clearly evident in females, as males are not effected as much. (Valås, 2004) Creating motivation in students is an important process, as it dramatically effects performance.

Testing instructions also affect students greatly. Instuctions influence not only what the student must do, but also how he perceives the environment around him. Instruction wording is even able to change a person’s response completely about the same stimulus. (Hetz, 2000) Instructions can change a student’s entire purpose for taking the test, thereby changing the results of the test. (Rival, 2003) A simple inflection of words, or change of purpose can reverse trends in testing results.