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Better tests for college entrance
Tests, tests, tests
Do you think the tests used today are a good measure of college aptitude?
So much emphasis is placed on tests that attempt to show the cognitive ability of the people that are taking it. SATs, ACTs, and all the other major tests try to show the same type of knowledge. While I'm not a huge fan of tests, especially when I have to take them, I do think that it is important to have some type of assessment that shows someone's ability level when trying to see whether they should be admitted into a college or not.
I would like to see these kind of tests expanded to cover the other two learning domains that are critical in order to be a high functioning individual, psychomotor and affective. Assessing these parts of learning will give the people who decide who is going to make it in college or not, a more complete picture of the student. By only focusing in on one of the domains, the amount you can know about a student is limited.
While I do think that cognitive domain is very important, I also believe that the other two are just as important and help to indicate someone's ability to learn and be successful in college.
I'm sure many of you know people who can do amazing on various tests and are extremely smart, but have severe deficits in other areas. A better rounded student will create better outcomes, on average, and will help students to be healthier and happier, in general.
Cheesy, but has good information
The affective domain is probably the least talked about domain. It is described as, "the domain that deals with attitudes, motivation, willingness to participate, valuing what is being learned, and ultimately incorporating the values of a discipline into a way of life." Pixel.fdha.edu
So basically this domain centers around how students learn and how they value that learning. For me, this seems to be something that is vitally important to be successful. You can be the smartest person in the world, but you are going to have issues learning if there is no desire or intrinsic motivation to learn.
Since college do not take this into account very well with prospective students, they don't have an important gauge to how well the student will be able to do while in school. I'm sure many of you know that the fastest, smartest, and most gifted are not the ones that are always successful. Often times, it is the people who work the hardest.
The only attempt by colleges to assess the affective is done by seeing how involved prospective students are prior to college. Other than that, they don't do much of anything to see the potential of the students' ability to value learning for the sake of learning.
The reason the lack of teaching affective skills
Part of the reason for this is the lack of explicit focus on teaching affective skills in schools at every level. Often these schools derive what they teach by what is valued by society. There seems to a lack on connection in this particular area.
I would be hard pressed to find anyone that doesn't stand in awe of some elite person of a field in part of because how hard they work. These people seem to be the outliers in their field, and often times they are. The people that look at them don't think they will be able to be as successful as them because they don't think they can be as dedicated or as hardworking as those people.
And they are partially right, those people are outliers for a reason. But schools don't value hard work in an explicit fashion. The lack of doing this forces this to be assessed in inefficient and inconsistent ways across schools, grade levels, and teachers.
This type of problem would change amazingly quickly if colleges formally assessed prospective students' affective skills before admitting them into college. Schools would be forced to place explicit emphasis on those types of skills, since so much of what they do today is work to prepare students for college.
I don't know what kind of tests they would be or if there are tests already out there that could assess this domain, but there isn't they need to developed. And if they exist, they need to be used.
Test the psychomotor domain
I believe that it is also important to assess prospective college students' ability in motor skills and to measure their health. I'm not sure how this should be done in detail, but I think there should be forms of testing for motor skills and testing for different areas of fitness. Things like strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular endurance should be assessed.
I believe that these areas should be tested because they will create the immediate need for lower levels schools to focus on developing students in this area in order for them to be able to be able to do well in those assessments.
Colleges should know about these part of students because ability in this area means that those students are going to be more likely to be successful when they are in college. They are less likely to be overstressed, overweight, and able to use their brain more because they have at least one direct outlet to release built up stress, maintain healthy weight, and to build the ability of their brain to make more neural connection more effectively.
Students who are more physically active and healthy are going to perform better in classes, be able to show up to class more, and be better all around students.
But that's not to say students who don't meet this standard of health should not be let into college solely based on that reason. I think they should be accepted into the college like colleges will allow for athletes who don't meet the standards to get in for various tests like the ACT. Students who struggle on those tests, but excel athletically are often let in and are required to go to tutoring or some other form of assistance to get them to be successful.
The same kind of programs should be set up for students who aren't healthy. They should be required to go through extra activity courses, fitness courses, and /or nutrition courses, so they can develop the skills to be healthy.
I think all students entering college should have to go through these kinds of courses no matter what, but I think it's especially important for students who aren't healthy and who may not know how to be healthy to learn how to be.
A step in the right direction
Much more should be done then simply making there be a health/fitness/motor skill test to get into college to fight against the growing weight problem in the United States. But what tests like I suggested will do is to create a standard that schools of any grade will have to start to work towards. They will be forced to increase the amount of physical activity and Physical Education their students receive during the day and school year.
Not only will increasing both of those things help students to reach the standards set by standardized tests and by tests for colleges, but they will be healthier, happier, and smarter.
And what confuses me the most is that with all the research that is available that shows the benefits of physical activity on learning how schools should be trying to do more to develop motor skills and health instead of going in the opposite direction. So much in education is said to be researched based and requiring evidence, but this is one area where many, many schools can ignore the research and do what they "think" is right instead of following where the research takes them and use evidence and research to direct their teaching practices.
The affective learning domain also plays into this area of education too. If students don't value the motor skills they are learning or being physical active, they most likely will never chose to be physical active.
People need to be more healthy and need to value learning more. Short and simple.