Headline fail

On the New York Times website, the most popular article right now is called, “To really learn, quit studying and take a test.”

The gist of the article is that taking a test helps people remember information better than creating a concept map. It seems to suggest that those hippie educators who believe in concept mapping should stop complaining about standardized testing, since it helps people “really learn.”

Not so fast, says Dan Styer, from Wakeman, Ohio, in the comments section:

It is important to note that the “test” involved in this study is not a graded test, nor a multiple-choice SAT-type test, but an ungraded “free-form essay”. The title of the article should be “To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Write an Essay”.

Indeed, the “test” is described thusly:

The final group took a “retrieval practice” test. Without the passage in front of them, they wrote what they remembered in a free-form essay for 10 minutes. Then they reread the passage and took another retrieval practice test.

Let’s be careful about what lessons we learn about “testing” from this study.

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