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Increasing Engagement with Test Corrections

Test corrections. Teachers love them because students can learn from their mistakes! Students hate them because….they have to learn from their mistakes. We know that test corrections can be incredibly helpful but there is no denying that going through question after question is well, boring. Below is a list of strategies that will help keep increase engagement during test corrections.

1. Make sure kiddos know ahead of time that you will go over the answers.

This not only lets them mentally prepare for the activity, but it also gives them a different lens through which they take their exam. It can lead them to be more intentional in their work when they know they will be held accountable for more than just circling the correct answer choice.

2.  Make test corrections a norm in your classroom.

Once test corrections become a norm, there will be less drudgery involved. Students will (hopefully) start to view test corrections as an exciting learning opportunity! They’ll start to feel like, “My teacher cares about my learning and is actually doing something with this information — just not tossing the test into a pile in the corner.”

3.  Turn it into a game!

One of the easiest ways to do this is to turn your exam into a Powerpoint Jeopardy game. Put students in heterogeneous groups and let them compete against one another.

Give one point for the group that gives the correct answer and two points for the group that gives the best explanation.

4. On the exam itself, leave space for students to explain their thinking.

This not only, again, makes students more intentional about their work, but this data is super helpful when students go back to their answers. They’ll be able to see immediately where their thinking went awry.

5. Let students earn points back on their exams.

This is probably the easiest way to incentivize test corrections. Don’t worry that the student “didn’t get the answer the first time.” Remember, it’s about the learning process, not when the material was mastered.

6. Differentiate test corrections

Not every kid has to do test corrections in the same way. Let your higher level kiddos hit the higher parts of Bloom’s Taxonomy by allowing them to teach to the middle-level learners. This also opens up your time to work with the lowest-performing students and give them the one-on-one attention they need.

7. Create a fictional student whose work the students can analyze in class.

This is something you can do both before and after a test. Before the test, create a sample version of the exact skills and types of questions students will see on the real thing.  Then, create a fictional character who got many questions wrong. For example, Distracted Dan didn’t really pay attention in class. He wasn’t prepared and made a lot of silly mistakes on the test.

As a class, or in groups, ask students to analyze Distracted Dan’s answers and thought processes. Students love pointing out where he went wrong. After the exam, take the exact test the kids took, put Distracted Dan’s name on it, and replicate the process. This will be most enjoyable for you, as the kids start judging Dan for his mistakes, only to later learn that these were the actual mistakes their peers made.? 

8. Create follow up projects to replace “corrections.”

If a significant portion of the class bombed a test or concept, create a follow up projects for students to do individually or in groups on just one specific concept and ask them to explain it to their classmates. Then, assess the concept again to see if the project increase understanding!

9. Presentations

Sometimes, something as simple as asking a student who got a question right to stand up and explain his or her thinking can greatly increase engagement. When you’re preparing for this activity, try to pick out students who might not volunteer to present in front of the class. Let them show off how smart they are to their peers!

More and more teachers are starting to understand that “assessments” are no longer just for “assessing.” Tests can and should be used as a valuable tool for continued learning and growth. Happy test-correcting!

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