Resources for Secondary Social Studies Instruction

Regarding Final Exams

Posted 2017-05-31 05:55:10

The final examination in my social studies classes is a knowledge test in multiple-choice format. Students who are able to prove that they possess knowledge of the subject to a high degree earn the highest marks. The reasons for using multiple-choice format are the following: (1) it is an objective measure and all students' submissions are treated the same; (2) In-depth studies I have done of other testing formats shows I get the same results from 50 multiple-choice questions as I do from assigning essay and short answer. Time being precious, I administer the 30-minute multiple-choice instead of the 2 hour written format. The final is 11.1% of the GPA of a full-year course.

I see the arguments made by those who say that, in the modern world, one does not need to memorize facts because everything can be Googled. I disagree. Firstly, reading comprehension is founded in prior knowledge. Not only must one have vocabulary to understand what one reads, but one must already have some knowledge of the topic one is reading in order to understand it. Having a background knowledge makes all that Googling possible. Secondly, I would argue that an employer, when weighing candidates for a job, is more likely to hire the one who possess knowledge than the one who has to look everything up. Where my opponent would argue that he never needed the facts and miscellaneous dates he was forced to memorize in school, I counter that teachers should be selective in what they require their students to know. Rest assured I have carefully considered what your child should know for my exams and that I am not forcing them to learn minutia of no consequence. is a web site supporting the curriculum and instruction in the social studies classes of David Jones at Schroon Lake Central School in Schroon Lake, New York, USA. David Jones © 2004-2017. All rights reserved except as noted on creative commons licensed work.

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