I’ve noticed that teachers start off a new lesson with the topic, maybe why it is important, and some motivation/hook. I have not seen, in the last few years, any teacher pre-testing students at the start of the topic. I understand the reason not to pre-test students. If we know what students do not know, then we have a responsibility to fill in the gaps. If we do not pre-test, then we do not know anything about learning gaps and we can proceed with our already-planned lesson even it does not fit the needs of the students.
If we pre-test and quickly analyze the results, we have an obligation to modify instruction. We can not simply say that the students need to do more math problems or they need to write more to do better in the standard. We have to discern how to help them travel from where they are to where we want them to be in terms of the standard.
I suggest giving a pre-test the day the students finish the previous unit. Then you have a day to analyze the results and modify your unit according to the new data you have. Some teachers who do not have a district online quiz or test program use survey sites such as Zoomerang and SurveyMonkey that allow them to give 10 question pre-test (multiple choice, True False, ratings, and open-ended) “survey” for up to 100 students. They can set up a quiz quickly. If they write the pretest in a word processor, then they can copy and paste it into the online survey taker program and they will have it for the future. However, the teacher has to copy the survey results since the results will disappear after ten days. Teachers save pretest correction time and basic analysis time when they use these sites.
Do you use another online survey program for pretests? Do you have another way to give online pretests and have them analyzed? Share your information so that we all can have new tools to help us improve our students’ learning.
© Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007