Exams and tests are counterproductive

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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby Zanthius on April 17th, 2018, 9:55 am 

Event Horizon » April 17th, 2018, 8:39 am wrote:You make neural connections when you learn something new, not something that is not challenging or something you know anyway.


When you store things on your hard drive, it is either stored there or it isn't. This isn't how information is stored in neural networks. It is not as if you either know something or you don't. You store things according to what it is connected to, and the more connections you have to a concept or idea, the better you understand it.


Event Horizon » April 17th, 2018, 8:39 am wrote:I do not personally feel this thread is challenging, and thus your reasoning is faulty.


So what? I bet you think complicated mathematics is challenging, but there might be much less neural processing involved in understanding complex mathematics, than in recognizing faces. Since your visual cortex does most of the processing for you, you don't experience it as challenging.

Humans are actually pretty retarded when it comes to arithmetic. Most humans cannot keep much more than 8 digits in their working memory, and certainly not do mathematical operations on 8 digit numbers without writing it down on a paper.

That you aren't finding something challenging to understand is not necessarily a bad thing. It just means the information is presented in a way which is easy for your brain to handle. Which is kinda exactly what I intended with the illustrations.

Why write with your left hand, if you are better at writing with your right hand? Things aren't necessarily better just because they are more challenging. This is a misconception.

There are actually humans that use complicated scientific words, just to appear more sophisticated. This is extremely stupid.
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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby Event Horizon on April 17th, 2018, 10:43 am 

Complicated scientific words are there for a reason. They can be used to describe something to other scientists that might otherwise take a lot of unnecessary time to explain or as concisely. Science is very complicated by nature, and I think it's a bit disingenuous to expect professionals to discard the lexicon of their field. If you don't understand it, learn it. If you don't care, forget it. It's a non-issue.
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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby Zanthius on April 17th, 2018, 10:52 am 

Event Horizon » April 17th, 2018, 9:43 am wrote:. Science is very complicated by nature, and I think it's a bit disingenuous to expect professionals to discard the lexicon of their field.


Yeah, well, that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about scientists that look in the lexicon to find words to make their articles appear more prestigious. I know several such scientists personally.

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Daniel Kahneman is a Nobel prize winner in economics, due to his research into cognitive biases.
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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby Event Horizon on April 17th, 2018, 11:02 am 

In my experience Z, I have met few scientists that are into self-aggrandisement. Most are thoughtful introverted types of varying degrees. Normally it's their peers that do the cheerleading, but of course your experience could be very different to mine.
Lecturers tend to be a little extrovert, but it's very different in a working lab where we just want to get on with our work.
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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby Zanthius on April 17th, 2018, 11:16 am 

Event Horizon » April 17th, 2018, 10:02 am wrote:In my experience Z, I have met few scientists that are into self-aggrandisement. Most are thoughtful introverted types of varying degrees. Normally it's their peers that do the cheerleading, but of course your experience could be very different to mine.
Lecturers tend to be a little extrovert, but it's very different in a working lab where we just want to get on with our work.


Interesting. Now you connected the concept of a scientist using a complex language to make himself appear more prestigious to the concept of an extrovert. I don't know if there is such a correlation or not, but I certainly didn't think it was strongly correlated to that.

This just shows that we can understand ideas and concepts very differently, depending on what we have our ideas and concepts connected to.
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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby BadgerJelly on April 17th, 2018, 11:33 am 

Let us take a closer look at the OP:

Zanthius » April 14th, 2018, 5:39 am wrote:I had a discussion with a friend today about exams and tests. The issue is this. We both know a lot of people that we studied together with that were obsessed only with getting good grades on exams. On the other hand, we also studied with people that weren't so interested in the exams, but had a genuine interest in understanding things. The students that cared only about exams often chose the easiest topics, while the students that had a genuine interest in understanding things often chose the most difficult topics. Of course, the students that cared only about getting good grades also usually got better grades than the students that had a genuine interest in understanding things. However, we both agreed that these students were unlikely to ever become famous scientists. On the other hand, the students that had a genuine interest for learning things, might some day become famous scientists. Exams and tests give an incentive to students to only learn what is necessary for the exams. Therefore I think exams and tests are counterproductive.

We also discussed the possibility of making a game, where you learned more science as you progressed in the game. At the end of the semester, those who had accomplished most in the game, would have shown the greatest interest for learning. A little bit like https://brilliant.org/. Maybe students could be measured in a way like this in the future.


The "problem" is set up on the opinion that "exams and tests are counterproductive," and this is backed up by anecdotal evidence - which appears to be viewed from a very specific level of study not taking into account the different age brackets.

Then the suggested solution is to not grade students on competence, but only on interest on some hypothetical game.

Maybe people who love science hate playing games of the kind set before them and lose interest in science because of this.

Bill Gates has actually been out there and tried to make a difference. He said the amount of money and work you throw at an education project is pointless unless you have teachers who care about teaching.

Give all children everywhere clothes, education and healthy food. Great! The problem is HOW?
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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby Zanthius on April 17th, 2018, 11:49 am 

BadgerJelly » April 17th, 2018, 10:33 am wrote:Then the suggested solution is to not grade students on competence, but only on interest on some hypothetical game.


It wouldn't work like that. No matter how interested a person is in the game, he wouldn't necessarily accomplish as much as a more competent person playing the game.

So it wouldn't just be about how interested they would be in playing the game. It would also be strongly correlated to their competence, since it requires competence to advance in the game.
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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby BadgerJelly on April 17th, 2018, 11:51 am 

How would it work then?

Have you read Iain Bainks "The Player of Games" by any chance?
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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby TheVat on April 17th, 2018, 12:50 pm 

I am seeing some very broad and general statements here regarding pedagogy and the value, or lack thereof, of academic testing. There is much I could probably agree with, but I am also sympathetic to members who have asked for more specifics and documentation. If you read our forum guidelines when you joined, you may have read this section on PCF:

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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby Zanthius on April 17th, 2018, 1:12 pm 

Braininvat » April 17th, 2018, 11:50 am wrote:I am seeing some very broad and general statements here regarding pedagogy and the value, or lack thereof, of academic testing. There is much I could probably agree with, but I am also sympathetic to members who have asked for more specifics and documentation. If you read our forum guidelines when you joined, you may have read this section on PCF:


Maybe you should delete this entire thread? I was more thinking to develop these ideas here, rather than to provide you with lots of references. I am also a bit sceptical to your guidelines, since I think a philosophy forum should be more about developing ideas, rather than about "publishing" ideas.
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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby Zanthius on April 17th, 2018, 1:33 pm 

BadgerJelly » April 17th, 2018, 10:51 am wrote:Have you read Iain Bainks "The Player of Games" by any chance?


No, I haven't, but maybe I should.
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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby TheVat on April 17th, 2018, 1:52 pm 

Zanthius » April 17th, 2018, 10:12 am wrote:
Braininvat » April 17th, 2018, 11:50 am wrote:I am seeing some very broad and general statements here regarding pedagogy and the value, or lack thereof, of academic testing. There is much I could probably agree with, but I am also sympathetic to members who have asked for more specifics and documentation. If you read our forum guidelines when you joined, you may have read this section on PCF:


Maybe you should delete this entire thread? I was more thinking to develop these ideas here, rather than to provide you with lots of references. I am also a bit sceptical to your guidelines, since I think a philosophy forum should be more about developing ideas, rather than about "publishing" ideas.


I am unaware of a publishing agenda expressed there. Many ideas are aided in their development by some nourishment from peer reviewed research. Aside from anecdotes, do you have any research that shows academic testing fails to achieve its goals? Or that specific academic outcomes are improved by an absence of testing? And why should we view this issue in binary terms, i.e. tests bad, games good. Could both have value, depending on the field?

Deleting the thread seems like a rather extreme measure. Moderators try to sharpen discussion, not obliterate it.
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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby Event Horizon on April 17th, 2018, 2:30 pm 

Because this is a public forum I think posting things does amount to publication. In the normal way of things the copyright automatically belongs to the author. It is also the author who could be taken to court over any hate-speech or other distasteful post, not the forum. Might be wize to get this clarified.
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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby Zanthius on April 17th, 2018, 4:42 pm 

Braininvat » April 17th, 2018, 12:52 pm wrote: Aside from anecdotes, do you have any research that shows academic testing fails to achieve its goals? Or that specific academic outcomes are improved by an absence of testing?


The thing we need to realize is that computers give us completely new possibilities, which weren't available before. One of the reasons why we needed to have exams before, was because we couldn't base our assessment/evaluation upon absolutely everything done by the student. When a student is learning within a digital environment, we can have an AI that continuously evaluates the student. Then I think it would be unnecessary for students to have exams, and I think the AI evaluation of the students could give an even more accurate assessment of how good they are.

Think of having multiple exams as a Riemann approximation, while having an AI that continuously evaluates the student as finding the true integral under a curve. Also, ambitious students that are just interested in getting good grades, tend to get a larger approximation than the true integral, while unambitious students that have a genuine interest in learning tend to get a smaller approximation than the true integral.

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Braininvat » April 17th, 2018, 12:52 pm wrote:
And why should we view this issue in binary terms, i.e. tests bad, games good. Could both have value, depending on the field?


Any type of learning that doesn't happen within a digital environment still needs to be evaluated by exams I guess.
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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby BadgerJelly on April 17th, 2018, 11:58 pm 

Zanthius » April 18th, 2018, 1:33 am wrote:
BadgerJelly » April 17th, 2018, 10:51 am wrote:Have you read Iain Bainks "The Player of Games" by any chance?


No, I haven't, but maybe I should.


Sci-fi novel about an alien race whose whole population are set jobs and placement in society by how they perform in the annual "game". The winner becomes the leader of the nation etc... You sound like you're thinking of the kind of future Banks was imagining in the form of The Culture.

As an idea, like communism, it may look perfect, but in reality it is not currently attainable - much like some of the things you've been proposing.

The case of Finland does point to the futility of constant testing, but it may have been the push to pay teachers more and make the profession more respected nationally.

There have been many successful education schemes tried in the US and they are usually ignored because there is little pressure on the government to change the current system and/or the current mindset doesn't believe the results (cultural mindset in the US of "competition" above most other options) and/or it is not practical to establish nationwide - plus the inevitable problem of cost and training teachers of the future.

The other issue of pushing for "gaming" is it may in effect create a generation of people who only do something they find to be fun - a kind of hedonism. This doesn't have to effect a large percentage of people in order to create a telling effect on society and if the "benefits" don't outweigh them we'd have created a degenerate society and be almost unable to reverse the tide. Slow and steady progress allows for adjustment whereas revolutionary ideas are irreversible more often than not - to explain further for clarity; it would take a few generations to show the effect and by that point the next generations coming through will already be set up to repeat the same problems.

Allowing students to teach themselves and having teachers learn from the students is the mindset I have. Class sizes are an important issue, and if systems are changed quickly teachers will be unable to adapt quickly.

Also, the basic principle of teaching people that doing something you don't like is a necessary part of life is perhaps more important than any other knowledge they may gain. At some point we have to understand in coming into so-called "adulthood" that life is tough and that it will beat you down. Without resolve and putting your nose to the grindstone of "boredom" little headway will ever be made for that individual. Better to learn the harsh lessons early so you can manage them than to be crippled by them in later life with little room for error.

All that said I do like the idea of "gaming" in schooling. Perhaps a day of school dedicated to Board Games would be a great thing - again though this is not likely to be implemented anytime soon unless there is a set course of action placed out - and it would be easier to establish for some subjects more than others.

Many modern board games are set up now in order to allow constant participation, rather than players being eliminated from the game completely - that kind of system is obviously important in a teaching environment. Giving students the freedom to change rules too may be a good thing and in art and design lessons they could be set to work making their own visions come to life.

Again though, practicality and resources. Time management and inclusivity. These are still problems because not everyone will like to partake.

Do you know about the Indian guy from Newcastle I mentioned before? I will find the link if you've no idea what I'm talking about.
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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby Zanthius on April 18th, 2018, 1:42 am 

BadgerJelly » April 17th, 2018, 10:58 pm wrote:As an idea, like communism, it may look perfect, but in reality it is not currently attainable - much like some of the things you've been proposing.


Communism doesn't look perfect as an idea, especially in regards to minimization of the room(possibilities) for corruption, and in regards to legitimization of authority.
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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby Zanthius on April 18th, 2018, 6:30 am 

BadgerJelly » April 17th, 2018, 10:58 pm wrote:Slow and steady progress allows for adjustment whereas revolutionary ideas are irreversible more often than not - to explain further for clarity; it would take a few generations to show the effect and by that point the next generations coming through will already be set up to repeat the same problems.


It is not like if you can make this go slow and steady even if you want to. Locally, you might be able to keep things slow and steady, but not necessarily globally. Say for example if companies start to prefer people that have been educated at https://brilliant.org/ or https://www.coursera.org/over people with classical education. This could very well happen in the near future, if companies feel like people that have been educated at brilliant.org or coursera.org are better. What will happen to the value of classical education then? Well, it might inflate, and then people are going to become much more interested in educating themselves at brilliant.org or coursera.org, rather than in schools and universities.

I don't necessarily think the future of education is going to be brilliant.org or coursera.org. Probably something more like games from http://www.zachtronics.com/, but much broader and with the same possibilities of getting diplomas as you have at coursera.org.

BadgerJelly » April 17th, 2018, 10:58 pm wrote:The other issue of pushing for "gaming" is it may in effect create a generation of people who only do something they find to be fun - a kind of hedonism.


That is of course possible, but you are thinking about this in the wrong way. Different types of education have different values. Today, a degree from Harvard has a very high value, so lots of people want to get a degree from Harvard. In the future, it might not be a degree from Harvard that has the highest value, but rather some score in a game from zachtronics.com. Whatever companies value highest, that is what most people are going to be interested in.

Look at this game:

Screeps is an open source MMO RTS sandbox game for programmers, wherein the core mechanic is programming your units AI. You control your colony by writing JavaScript which operate 24/7 in the single persistent world filled by other players on par with you.


http://store.steampowered.com/app/464350/Screeps/

I don't think it is going to be long before google, and other tech companies start to hire people from games like that.

And look what I found now:

We started using Screeps as a means of technical evaluation end of last year. Since then, our business has been thriving and our use of Screeps as a test has become more visible.

In order to understand why we chose your game as a key part of our recruitment process, it’s important to understand a little bit about fleetster. We are a small startup in Munich, Germany, working with the latest JS tech - Node, Ember, React, React-native, TypeScript etc. Our business is lean and our process is agile which means specifications are changing all the time.

Screeps is useful because it throws candidates into an unknown environment where the number of “right” solutions are very numerous. They have to get their bearings and make a pl an of action whilst dealing with unexpected outside interference (other players). We hope you won’t mind our presence in the main game world, but we find the huge scope of the main world helps to further intimidate candidates. We need people who can take on complex challenges head on and realize that most often the solutions are simple and accessible.

— Anna Baumeister, Management Assistant at fleetster


http://blog.screeps.com/2017/05/fleetster/
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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby BadgerJelly on April 18th, 2018, 1:01 pm 

Coursera severely disappointed me. The videos took forever to load, no idea what is wrong with the speed of streaming, but I can tell you know practically all the vids I care about are useless to me - I lost confidence in the site because it is annoying when you get halfway through a course and the second half of the course vids are unwatchable.

If they streamed faster then they'd be great. Sadly they don't, but I imagine in the US they probably do?

The Screeps thing looks amazing! I'll have to invest in a more powerful machine to use it though :(
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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby Event Horizon on April 23rd, 2018, 3:51 pm 

What kind of machine would you need to run it efficiently? I've got a quad core i5 intel with 2 gig ram. I was thinking of having a look, but my puter is a bit old now I think. Would I need to upgrade to see that you guys are enthusing about?
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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby BadgerJelly on April 23rd, 2018, 11:04 pm 

Event Horizon » April 24th, 2018, 3:51 am wrote:What kind of machine would you need to run it efficiently? I've got a quad core i5 intel with 2 gig ram. I was thinking of having a look, but my puter is a bit old now I think. Would I need to upgrade to see that you guys are enthusing about?


No, I don't have a desktop. I manage with a VERY small light-weight laptop. Any desktop should be able to run Screeps easily enough.
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Re: Exams and tests are counterproductive

Postby -1- on January 14th, 2019, 2:47 am 

Education is a diversity vs convergence game.

Every student presents different challenges to the teacher, and every teacher presents different challenges to the student. These are not challenges in the problems of each academic discipline, but challenges in the psychological incompatibilities that make learning and teaching highly unsuccessful.

There is an incredibly high amount of incompatibilities that the system has to overcome or compensate for. An extreme example: It was hard to focus on the lectures of my high school lit teacher, because she wore short-sleeve tops and dresses to class, and her upper arms were disgustingly flabby and wrinkled. Most people would not notice such a thing; if they did they'd glide over it. For me, it was agonizing to sit through forty-five minutes each class she taught. I don't think I have retained a single solitary thing she taught.

All the pedagogical theory in the world could not foresee or correct this problem.

This is a tiny amount of a problem to concern one student out of hundreds, but for that one student it is catastrophic to learning.

Teaching is an art at this point. There are theories you can develop and apply and each will be somewhat lame. Due to the diversity inherent in the system.

I would say teaching grade school successfully is impossible, if you measure success by uniform achievement by the students' acquiring the material. Teaching is indeed the profession that needs to overcome the problem of diversity most successfully, because it faces that problem more than any other profession; and it makes it into an impossible task.

But humans teach their kids, in groups or in private, and the results are though far from ideal, they are good. Some kids learn some things. That's where the buck stops, and you can't push the envelope any further, as 100 years of intense research has not produced any better or more effective teaching methods than what was in place at any time in history. In other words, empirical findings show that teaching methods are similar to others in success no matter what the method is.

The profession is trying, though, to perfect its system. Is it all in vain? I don't know.
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