Allowing students to do Test Corrections?

Students take a test.  We spend hours grading the tests and adding comments to help them learn.  How do we make sure students learn from our comments and not just look at the grade?

One method is to allow students to earn back points on their test by writing Test Corrections.  They write the correct answer for each question that they got wrong. They provide some proof of where this correct answer came from: a page in the textbook, a lecture slide, or an explanation of why the new answer is correct.

I think test corrections are a valuable teaching tool.  Corrections teach students how to look at their mistakes and correct them.  Corrections allow students to take more ownership of their knowledge/grade and show students how to improve their knowledge, thereby modeling for students how to improve their lives (identifying mistakes and finding ways to fix them).  But I am not sure what the best method for test corrections is.  What have you learned are good methods?

My thoughts on things to consider with corrections:

  • Are they appropriate for your class? Test corrections seem very appropriate for a skill-based class (ex. Latin) where students can correct their bad habits.  Are they appropriate for an ancient history class? a literature in translation class? It depends on your learning objectives and goals for the students.
  • How much work will they be for you to grade? You’ve already spent a lot of time grading tests, how much more time do you want to spend on test corrections?  They may be less time than you expect because, usually, not all of the students will do optional test corrections.
  • How much work will they be for the students? The work needs to be sufficiently low for them to actually do the corrections but sufficiently high to make them learn.
  • How many points will you let them earn back: full credit? half credit? 1/3 credit? 1/4 credit?  Make sure the math is easy enough for you to do quickly when you’re grading the test corrections.  Again, there should be sufficient incentive to do the corrections, but not enough to prevent them from studying for the actual test.
  • Do your directions apply to all the types of questions on your exam? For test corrections in a Latin class, my directions required students to provide a page number from the textbook for the correct answer.  This worked for a few questions, but not for every type of question, especially the translations.  Therefore, I changed the directions for the next test to be more clear and adaptable to the actual test format.

What have you learned are good practices for test corrections? Why do you do them? or why do you not do them?


6 thoughts on “Allowing students to do Test Corrections?

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