Head of Communication department at Camden County College making strides to see students succeed
Assistant Professor of Communications, Drew Jacobs has changed the structure of the five classes he presently teaches to create a curriculum which he feels is more successful than the old one.
Jacobs is going into his 16th year at Camden County College and is presently teaching five communications classes, none of which have any formal tests.
Starting with his favorite class, Influence of Mass Media, he began trying to phase tests out about six years ago.
“The idea came from frustration,” said Jacobs. “Using the same tried and true methods of tests and asking people to memorize them wasn’t giving me or the students much success, and I saw frustration in the students.”
After gathering information online, he slowly moved away from asking students to take a traditional test and more toward projects and writing assignments.
This traditional kind of testing “worked fine when I started, but there’s no need any more to ask people to memorize information when they can look up anything on their phone.” He feels that being able to sort through credible information and sources is more important than memorizing.
As happy as some students are that testing has been phased out in Jacobs classes, other students are disappointed.
Christina Gomez, a communications major from CCC, said that she’d actually prefer a memorization required type of test.
“For me, that’s when I do my best. When I can sit down read a chapter, study what I’ve been told to study and apply it to test questions,” said Gomez.
As he began to see and undeniable change in the new generation of students at CCC, Jacobs shifted the focus of what he needs to get out of students for them to get a good grade. It used to be memorization, and now it’s being able to sort through search results online to find out what is valid and what is not.
The more success he found in not giving tests, the more thought and planning had to go in to how to create assignments to replace the tests.
What he has found is the best substitution is a well defined graded item where he gives the students the resources they will need and the opportunity to collaborate with each other. One example is a read and react type of paper where students pull information from a website to backup their opinion.
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