ERIC Number: ED345982
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Feb-14
Reference Count: N/A
Achieving a High Test Score in the Social Studies Classroom: How Student Success Depends Heavily upon Unstated Criteria Used by the Teacher.
Stahl, Robert J.; And Others
Students in social studies classrooms frequently find themselves in situations where the information they need to provide in order to have a correct, complete response is not clear. For example, teachers frequently use cue words in questions and directions such as "identify,""describe,""analyze," and "explain." Such words are frequently used but rarely defined precisely in social studies classrooms. The use of such ambiguous terms forces students to guess what response is favored by the teacher. Thus, what students provide as answers on tests and what their scores are may be inaccurate representations of what they really know and have actually achieved. This report examines this hypothesis by focusing upon the test responses of pre-service teachers in social studies methods courses in order to illustrate how their own success on a test would be affected by the meanings and standards they and the grader used to evaluate their responses. It was found that among the pre-service social studies teachers, the terms used to cue responses to subject matter content test items were defined differently among the individuals involved and that these differences generated dissimilar expectations as to what is a complete, acceptable response to items where these cue terms are used. Implications of the findings for student success in social studies classrooms are drawn, including: if students' meanings for the identical term are different from those of their teacher and if they use their personal definitions to form a response to a test item, the chances are great that students will not be given full credit on those items regardless of how much time and effort they put into forming and writing the response. A list of 31 references is included. Four appendices containing information about the examination used in the report, responses given to the examination, and analysis of the data are included as well. (DB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Preservice Teachers; Social Studies Teachers
Note: An extension of a paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Council for the Social Studies (Anaheim, CA, November, 1990).