I remember a while back running across an article about the crazy type of interview questions asked by various company's hiring managers. One in particular struck me as an excellent question: "Explain to me what has happened in this country during the last 10 years."
This question makes me wonder whether it would be possible to test a student's knowledge of an entire course by asking one question like this.
These days everyone in education seems to be obsessed with "assessment." But, often it seems this mania for measuring is focused on measuring the wrong things. Real student learning, real-world application, and deep understanding are rarely measured and when they are the results indicate that students are not learning very much at all (this is chronicled in the book Academically Adrift).
It seems to me that every course students take could be described in terms of a set of skills or presented as a set of problems to be solved. Not artificial skills or textbook problems (as in math homework problems) but real-world skills and problems that people who work in the field deal with.
Describing courses in this way might open up a new perspective on how we can assess student learning in these courses. So, what could be the skill/problem set for such courses as economics, psychology, sociology, communications, mathematics, statistics, philosophy?
I think it might be an interesting challenge to come up with one question for each of these courses to assess real learning. What would these questions ask?
KEVIN J. BROWNE
Philosopher / Educator