Boost Critical Thinking: Let Students Use Google on Exams
A British academic's remarks that "it’s inevitable that students will be allowed to use the Internet in exams" sparks a debate over the purpose of testing and the encouragement of learning.
What's the point of a high school examination? Ostensibly it's to gauge whether a student has crammed enough necessary information into his or her noggin. According to the head of a U.K.-based exam authority, we may very well be at a turning point for exams. Paul Sawers at VentureBeat has the scoop:
"Mark Dawe, chief executive of OCR, an exam board that provides qualifications for pre-college-age children in parts of the U.K. ... has said it’s inevitable that students will be allowed to use the Internet in exams.
'Exams are for assessing what students have learnt,' said Dawe. 'We’re seeing students use search engines more when they’re learning, and exams are also for preparing for employment or further study. You should still need a base understanding of things, though.'
Dawe said that exams should reflect how students learn in the real world — and there is little question that students use Google, Wikipedia, and the like to garner 'facts' related to their studies."
Oh boy. This is just dripping in fuel for the ornery "kids these days" crowd, and it'd be hard to argue that those folks don't have a point. But key to Dawe's observation here is the way he describes the purpose of exams. Our academic systems have, for a variety of reasons, evolved in the past few decades from institutions of knowledge into centers for career development. Most people don't attend college to explore the human condition or to grasp at the hidden truths of existence, but rather to obtain a piece of paper that makes them hirable.
So Dawe is, in a way, mapping the continued evolution of university education. If the point is to get young people prepared for the white collar workforce, then why shouldn't exams be tailored in a way that promotes problem-solving, information-gathering, and self-teaching strategies?
Sawers writes about precedence for technology-assisted tests. One could argue, he posits, that allowing students to Google certain information is analogous to allowing them to use graphing calculators in math exams. Let technology do the heavy lifting; leave all else to the brain:
"Back in 2009, 14 Danish schools allowed pupils to use the Internet during exams as part of a pilot project. During a Danish language exam, the assignments were adapted to allow the use of online resources.
The questions couldn’t be straightforward with easy answers; there had to be a level of complexity to them that involved thinking and connecting the dots. In other words, it could actually improve exams if it’s less about regurgitating facts and more about analyzing information."
It's definitely thought-provoking, this sort of thinking. Part of me shudders at the thought of higher academia continuing in its transition toward job training. The other side wonders whether traditional exams have been holding us back all along. Critical thinking, learning strategies, and research skills are paramount in today's economy. Why shouldn't we modify academics to foster them?
Check out Sawers' full piece at VentureBeat.
Below, author and journalist Fareed Zakaria explains that our future economy will depend not only on a hearty supply of skilled laborers, but also on the ability of those laborers to exhibit excellent learning skills:
Researchers have just discovered the remains of a hybrid human.
90,000 years ago, a young girl lived in a cave in the Altai mountains in southern Siberia. Her life was short; she died in her early teens, but she stands at a unique point in human evolution. She is the first known hybrid of two different kinds of ancient humans: the Neanderthals and the Denisovans.
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- The tech industry may be dominated by men in terms of numbers, but there are lots of brilliant women in leadership positions that are changing the landscape.
- The women on this list are founders of companies dedicated to teaching girls to code, innovators in the fields of AI, VR, and machine learning, leading tech writers and podcasters, and CEOs of companies like YouTube and Project Include.
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Most said they want to act on their desire someday. But do open relationships actually work?
- The study involved 822 Americans who were in monogamous relationships at the time.
- Participants answered questions about their personalities, sexual fantasies, and intentions to act on those fantasies.
- Research suggests practicing consent, comfort, and communication makes open relationships more likely to succeed.
Consensual non-monogamy fantasies<p>For the new study, published in <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-020-01788-7" target="_blank">Archives of Sexual Behavior</a>, researchers asked 822 people in monogamous relationships to:</p><ul><li>Describe their favorite sexual fantasy, defined as "mental images you have while you are awake that you find to be sexually arousing or erotic."</li><li>Select which themes apply to that fantasy, such as having sex with multiple people at the same time, experimenting with taboos, or engaging in a sexually open relationship.</li><li>Answer whether they intended to carry out these fantasies, and discuss them with their partner.</li><li>Complete assessments on relationship satisfaction, erotophilia and personality, as measured by the Big Five Personality inventory.</li></ul><p>The results showed that 32.6 percent of participants said being part of a sexually open relationship was "part of their favorite sexual fantasy of all time." More surprising is that, of that one-third, 80 percent said they want to act on this fantasy in the future.</p>
Pretzelpaws via Wikipedia Commons<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"The present research confirms the important distinction between sexual fantasy and sexual desire in that not everyone wanted to act on their favorite sexual fantasy of all time," study author Justin J. Lehmiller told <a href="https://www.psypost.org/2020/09/one-third-of-people-in-monogamous-relationships-fantasize-about-being-in-some-type-of-open-relationship-study-suggests-58102" target="_blank">PsyPost</a>. "This suggests that fantasies may serve different functions for different people."</p><p>Even though most participants said they want to act out their fantasy in the future, far fewer reported acting out sexual fantasies in the past. Other findings included:</p><ul><li>Men were more likely to fantasize about CNMRs.</li><li>So were people who scored high in <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erotophilia#:~:text=Erotophilia%20is%20a%20personality%20trait,ranging%20from%20erotophobia%20to%20erotophilia." target="_blank">erotophilia</a> and sociosexual orientation.</li><li>The psychological predictors of fantasizing about CNMRs differed from predictors about infidelity fantasies.</li></ul>
Do open relationships work?<p>A <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00224499.2019.1669133" target="_blank">2019 study</a> from psychologists at the University of Rochester suggests it <em>is </em>possible<em>, </em>but especially when both partners practice a trio of behaviors: consent, communication, and comfort — or, the Triple-C Model.<br></p>But the study also suggests not all forms of open relationships are equally viable. For example, people in one-sided CNMRs — where one partner stays monogamous, the other seeks outside sexual relationships — were nearly three times more dissatisfied in their relationships than the monogamous group <em>and </em>the consensual non-monogamous group.
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