Many teachers in Hanoi say that the oral test in the form of ‘sudden call, sudden question’ has been abandoned for a long time because it is not effective in evaluating students.
1. ‘Sudden call, sudden question’ only scares students and makes them study defensively.
Ms. H.T.H, a high school chemistry teacher in Bac Tu Liem district, affirms that the ‘oral test’ in the form of questioning, randomly calling a few students is not effective in teaching and learning.
‘The test only makes sense when it shows the students what they are weak at, where they are lacking. If the test is just to ‘punish’, to scare the students into studying, or even to create authority for oneself, then studying is just defensive. Fear will also make them dislike the subject, dislike the teacher and subtly refuse to study,’ Ms. H. shares.
Ms. P.T.L.A., a literature teacher in Hanoi, expresses a similar view: ‘Pressure is necessary but teachers need to be sober with different types of pressure in studying so as not to create wrong pressure.’
Ms. L.A. believes that pressure from fear is a wrong pressure because the purpose of students is to study to solve fear. In this case, knowledge cannot be transformed. Students study and finish exams as ‘returning the teacher’s words’.
‘Studying is like everything else in life, requiring diligence and discipline to be effective. But if you do a job just for survival and not something you are passionate about, you will feel tired, stressed, even bored. If diligence and discipline in studying are created by some kind of pressure, some invisible pressure that does not come from the needs or interests of students, then it is torture. Therefore, before creating pressure for students to become more diligent and disciplined, teachers must create affection for the subject first,’ Ms. L.A expresses.
Ms. N.T.M.T., a middle school literature teacher, also believes that ‘oral test’ is an outdated concept and no longer popular. ‘Most teachers understand that this form of testing does not work with poor students and does not fully evaluate other students,’ Ms. T. emphasizes.
According to Ms. T., for students who do not have a sense of study, who are not closely cared for by their parents, sudden tests do not help them study better. Meanwhile, good and excellent students may still fall into the situation of not being able to answer ‘sudden’ questions because they do not always understand the lesson.
‘Even good students have ups and downs. Sometimes for some reason they don’t study old lessons. If tested in the style of ‘sudden call, sudden question’ on content they can’t answer, they will feel embarrassed with their friends. Hurting children is always wrong, even if it’s their fault.
I disagree with the view ‘painful punishment remembers life’. There are many ways for students to know they are wrong, learn from experience, change bad behavior without necessarily pushing them into standing still on the podium out of fear and embarrassment. Sudden call, sudden question only ruins students,’ Ms. T shares her perspective.
2. Digital transformation helps teachers not to ‘suddenly call, suddenly ask’
Ms. H.T.H said that young teachers at her school are proficient in using many free online tools such as Quizizz, Google form to create homework for students. Students are happier to receive online multiple-choice test papers than traditional paper and pen assignments.
With this form of online assignment, teachers can review and evaluate the quality of students’ assignments in their email inbox, as well as know which students do not do their homework without having to check old assignments at the beginning of the class. Surveys at private schools such as Nguyen Sieu School, Marie Curie School, Vinschool, Le Quy Don School…, the form of ‘oral test’ in the form of questioning has been abandoned for a long time.
Many schools use LMS (online learning management system) tools to assign homework, control studying, review lessons of students effectively. In addition to applying information technology, teachers also have many comprehensive testing methods depending on the subject they are in charge of.
‘At my school, teachers usually use two methods. One is to check homework, two is to check 10-minute writing on paper. Both of these methods apply to 100% of students in the class, not randomly any student. The purpose of checking at the beginning of the class is to see if the students have really understood the old lesson or not, where they need to be reminded, clarified before moving on to a new lesson,’ Ms. H.T.H. said.
For the final exam preparation phase serving the high school graduation exam, Ms. H.T.H does have oral tests but does not call randomly. Ms. H. will announce in advance the test content with those students who have not yet grasped the knowledge of that content.
This is to help weaker students know which lessons they need to focus on for review and adjust their study behavior. The beginning-of-class test form of distributing paper multiple-choice questionnaires is also applied by many teachers to create a comfortable mentality and increase enthusiasm for students.
Ms. N.T.M.T. has a different method that hits the ‘teen’ psychology of students. She announces in advance who will be tested but not by name but by… zodiac sign. ‘I don’t understand why calling by name makes them tense but calling by zodiac sign makes them excited as if they ‘get’ tested instead of being ‘tested’,’ Ms. T. confided.
According to Ms. T., testing also needs creativity, besides knowledge in books should have additional content for students to express social understanding, hobbies and personal views. Ms. T. often asks test questions including a hard part and an open part. The hard part is basic knowledge, the open part is practical knowledge for students to reveal personality. Many students perform very well in this open part.
Ms. T also shared more that Ho Chi Minh City’s requirement for teachers not to force students to answer in the style of ‘sudden call, sudden question’ has a unified directive on educational methods. In reality, teachers who always strive to innovate teaching methods no longer use this form.
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Does the ‘sudden call, sudden question’ oral test ruin students?