Best Practice

Pedagogy: Rejecting teaching to the test

As tempting as it can be to teach to the test, Karen Sullivan urges educators to reject this approach. She offers some alternative ideas based on research evidence

The inevitable countdown to final exams has begun and it is all-too-tempting to adjust teaching methods and use teaching time to ensure that students are prepared to master their examinations, even if it does mean that creative learning is compromised.

While there is research to suggest that students will achieve higher grades in some subjects with the “teach to the test” approach, it is a worrying trend that can extinguish a love of learning, lead to poor motivation, and result in superficial learning that prohibits advanced thinking and communication skills.

One study by the Institute of Education in 2010 found that children perform best in exams when teachers are not overly concerned about their test results. Pupils showed greater motivation, were better behaved, and more likely to be independent and strategic thinkers.

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