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How have individuals been assessed throughout history? What will tests look like in the future? Patrick Griffin, from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, answered both of these questions in his recent thought-provoking presentation at the University of Melbourne.

Particularly interesting points for me included:

– The discussion of Dr. Knox’s Cube Test
– The remark that it is possible to develop multiple choice tests that assess deep learning or deep knowledge
– The statement that, in a multiple choice test, “very few answers are the result of a random guess”
– The notion that the three Rs (reading, writing, arithmetic) were essential for education in the industrial age, but in the information age, it will be the four Cs: collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking
– Findings from a study by The Economist that “problem solving, teaming working and communication skills are the skills that are currently most in demand in the workplace”, but that “education systems are not providing enough of the skills that students and the workplace need”
– The suggestion that assessment in the future will be: in-formative, interactive, internet-based, interventionist, and give instant feedback

I also loved Patrick’s anecdote about the road-tests that he and a colleague used to do of a particular set of multiple-choice exams: “Nathan and I used to do much of the analysis of the tests for the College of Surgeons and also for the College of Obstetrics. You’d be very, very pleased to know that I and Nathan could each pass the test because we could work out how to eliminate many of the questions by just a sheer knowledge of the way in which the questions were worded.”