Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

The Test Assessment Questionnaire: A Tool for Student Self-Assessment after the Midterm Exam

Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

The Test Assessment Questionnaire: A Tool for Student Self-Assessment after the Midterm Exam

Article excerpt


When exams are used to assess student learning, the implicit assumption is that the students have submitted work that reflects their understanding of the material after their genuine attempt to learn it. Some students do diligently prepare for exams; some do not. Additionally, some students believe that they have earnestly prepared for an exam, when in reality their efforts are not adequate for the grade they are targeting (e.g. students who might say "I thought I got an A" because "I studied really hard" and yet earn a lower grade).

Several studies have investigated student overconfidence. Walstad (2001) calls for further investigation of the psychology of students, suggesting concepts from behavioral economics (e.g. overconfidence) could be used to explain student behavior. Falchikov and Boud (1989) find that students have grade expectations that are higher than the typical distribution for the course. Additionally, students in the principles courses are found to be overconfident in their understanding of material, as measured by their predictions of exam scores (Grimes 2002). Nowell and Alston (2007) find that instructor grading practices can influence the degree of overconfidence.

When faced with a student who is upset at receiving a lower than expected exam grade, instructors may respond by telling students to study more. For the students who only study for two hours the night before the exam and earn a D grade, this strategy surely has merit. However, for other students, simply studying more may or may not result in a higher grade. The lack of effect of study time on achievement is documented by Becker (1982). This can be frustrating to the students who feel they already are "studying hard".

Such students may start to blame the instructor for the disconnect between effort and desired grade. Students may label the instructor as "unfair" or the course simply "too hard". Grimes, Millea, and Woodruff (2004) find that the degree to which students accept personal responsibility for performance affects their evaluation of teaching effectiveness and course satisfaction. In course evaluations, students reward professors who increase achievement in the contemporaneous course, not those who facilitated deep learning for subsequent courses (Carrell and West 2010). Millea and Grimes (2002) conclude that instructors need not "water-down" courses in order to receive favorable course evaluations. Instead, they can positively influence evaluations by addressing negative student attitudes about forthcoming coursework.

Informed by these studies, we introduce a practical tool, the Test Assessment Questionnaire (TAQ), which helps students critically evaluate their course progress after the midterm exam. This tool has two main benefits: 1) it guides students toward more self-awareness in their studies 2) it can be used as a part of assessment and assurance of learning efforts. Additionally, it requires minimal class time to implement and virtually no work burden on the part of the instructor. This tool has been piloted and refined in the principles of economics courses. It is recommended for exams with multiple choice questions, true/false questions, and mathematical problems. We have not experimented with using it for essay exams. It may be possible for an instructor to develop their own version compatible with essay questions.


The Test Assessment Questionnaire guides students through an analysis of their midterm exam mistakes (see Appendix A for a copy). Students are asked about their exam preparation activities as well as studying activities for the course in general. Additionally, students are guided to formulate a study strategy for the remainder of the course.


In the class period when the midterm exam is returned, students are also given the correct answers and a copy of the TAQ. The instructor does not devote time to going over the exam. …

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