kochi005: November 2011 Archives

Blog # 5 Standardized Testing

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"Five persons are sitting in a line. One of the two persons, at the farthest ends, is sharp, the other one is fair. An overweight person is sitting to the right of a feeble person. A tall person is to the left of the fair person and the feeble person is sitting between the sharp and overweight persons. The tall person is at which place counting from right?" This is a sample question from the GRE; to many people this question may appear confusing at first and you may be wondering what is this even testing. The answer to this question is that the tall person is the second to the right. In both lecture and discussion there was a great deal of focus on the debate of standardized testing. Being a junior who is going to take the GRE sometime in the spring or summer of 2012, the topic of standardized testing was relevant and interesting to me. Therefore, I decided to further explore this controversial topic. First, I will discuss briefly the history and structure of standardized testing specifically the SAT, ACT and GRE. Then I will review some opinions regarding the reliability of these tests. According to the article "Brief History: Standardized Testing" by Dan Fletcher, published in the magazine "Time" in December 11, 2009 the earliest record of standardized testing originates from China. Government employees or candidate employees had to complete an exam testing their knowledge of Confucian philosophy and poetry. In the United States during the Industrial Revolution this became a method of testing large numbers of students more efficiently. In modern times performance in ACT and SAT tests is among the most significant in the college-admission process. The SAT is geared towards testing logic, while the ACT is considered to be evaluating accumulated knowledge. Imagine now that you have prepared and any of these standardized tests and feeling pretty good about how the test went until 2 weeks later receiving a lower score than anticipated. Data shows that such discrepancy may not always be incorrect answering but due to error in the grading process. This type of error has occurred and sometimes it is caught other times no one is aware of this error which may contribute to which school you will get accepted to. Errors in standardized testing were explained in "A Systematic Problem" published by the National Board on Education Testing and Public Policy written by Kathleen Rhoades and George Madaus from the Lynch School of Education at Boston College in May 2003. Rhoades explains that these errors occur due to the fact that there is no US agency that independently checks the processes and products of the testing agencies, which leads to errors that are difficult to detect. A famous example discussed was the case of the 1978 Medical College Admissions Test when the "mistake resulted in artificially low scores for 90 percent of the test takers on one administration and probably caused some candidates to be disqualified" (Rhoades 5). Another horrific story is the 1977 transitioning in the difficulty level of the LSAT. Students that took the test before October of 1977 obtained significantly lower scores and were less likely to get accepted into any law school program. This story is troubling to me because they recently changed the grading of the GRE making me believe this type of error might occur again. Furthermore as discussed in class several studies suggest that GRE scores are only modest predictors of first year grades and showed no correlation to second year grades. The article "Does the GRE Measure Anything Related to Graduate School?" by Jamie Hale and published in the journal the "World of Psychology" discusses how the data from the Educational Testing Service (the test's manufacturer) the GRE is an extremely weak predictor of first year graduate school grades. Morison's study found that the relationship between test scores and grades that the GRE score predicted not even 6 percent of the variation in grades. In summary, standardized test have been around for years and there is still no good correlation between test scores and grades; yet these scores are a key component in becoming accepted in schools, and affect greatly young people's future. These tests not only weakly correlate with subsequent success in studies but are also vulnerable to human errors, which are not always detected. Does anyone still believe these tests should be used or do you think there is enough evidence that standardized testing is inaccurate and should not be used anymore?

Article: Brief history: standardized testing by Dan Fletcher published December 11, 2009 by Time magazine


Article: Does the GRE Measure Anything Related to Graduate School? By Jamie Hale published in the journal World of Psychology:

Sample questions:

"A Systematic Problem" published by the National Board on Education Testing and Public Policy written by Kathleen Rhoades and George Madaus from the Lynch School of Education at Boston College in May 2003.

Sexual Orientation

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The concept of sexual orientation has come up in chapter 11 suggested that a persons sexual orientation is something that is not controlled but instead it is due to a small cluster of neurons in the hypothalamus in the brain. Simon LeVay proposed this in 1981, in later years investigators exposed gay men and heterosexual men and women to phernomes. The results were that homosexual men responded similar to the women's when they smelled the substance derived from male sweat. These finding supported LeVay's earlier results. Further studies have shown that the brain's corpus callosum was is larger in homosexuals than heterosexual men. Scientists have also found that there are physical aspects that also differ. For instance, a majority of left-handed individuals are not homosexual. The article "The Science of Sexual Orientation" by Daniel Schorn published by CBS news discusses to twin boys (Jared and Adam) and their very different interests. Jared was always interested in "boy things" playing with G.I. Joe's, guns... which Adam enjoyed playing with dolls. The scientist Lesley Stahl stated that Adam was demonstrating extreme gender nonconformity she also went on to say that children that show this sign usually grow up to be homosexual. Adam and Jared's mom stated that she began to notice this when Adam was only 18 months old when he began to ask for Barbie dolls. Similar to Jared and Adam were the twins Greg and Steve who were also discussed in the article. This article explained two situations in which one twin was homosexual and the other was not this provides some evidence that sexual orientation does not have to do with nurture but most likely genetics. These findings I thought were very interesting they do not necessarily show that correlation is causation, meaning we still do not know what the difference is, but to me these findings did show that a person's sexual orientation is not a choice but in fact they are born either homosexual or heterosexual and that there are many factors that contribute including perhaps genetic. Video: (video could not be embedded) Direct link: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=1391768n News article: http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-18560_162-1385230.html?pageNum=3&tag=contentMain;contentBody

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