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Students Statistics Poster Shows Students Try Harder if Tests Co - KOAM TV 7

Students Statistics Poster Shows Students Try Harder if Tests Count Toward Grades

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   Two Joplin high students and their statistics teacher get national recognition for a project that gives insight to student attitudes when taking tests.

It's test day in Adam Bennett's algebra classes. And this one is for real.

But earlier he and two of his students gave classmates a fake. 

Sadie Wallner, a senior says, "We were conducting an experiment  to find out if telling students a test was for a grade affects their score."

About one hundred of Bennett's students were tested at midterm last year. Half the students were told the test was for a grade. The other half were told it wouldn't affect their grade.

Wallner says, "We learned it does make a difference. The students who were told that the test was  for a grade scored significantly higher than the ones  who were not."

The teacher says those thinking it was for a grade spent nearly double the amount of time taking the test as the other group  and seemed to try harder.

Bennett says, "Those kids were getting out paper,  they were asking if they could borrow calculators.  The other group, the test was on the computer and  they were trying to answer all the questions without  getting out paper and pencil. Not putting much thought  into it. Just trying to get it done."

Sadie Wallner and Nazhath Sulthana presented the results in a Pittsburg State University  math poster contest and won.  Then they  took first  place nationally.

Nazhath says she understands  why some might not try as hard if it's not for a grade.

"I will try my  best even if it's not for a grade. The difference is I wouldn't stress on it. I wouldn't study as long for it. I would study for it, but I wouldn't study as long,  quite honestly."

Mr. Bennett says the pool of study was too small to change things district wide but it did impact his teaching.

He says, "It caused me to question my practice  more. I would and try to back it up with data cause I'd probably been on the side that didn't think common assessments  needed to be a for a grade  necessarily for the kids to try and for your to see what they knew. And it seems like that doesn't give you the clearest picture. "

And Wallner adds, "This data proves that a certain way of teaching can be more effective  than another way of teaching. I know there's a lot of talk  about if a test should be a for a grade and if that's really good for the student.  But this data  does show it does get better results." 

Bennett had hoped his students would  see the relevance of statistics in life.

     He says statistics can be used to answers questions about the things we do and how we do them in any career field.

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