Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Have You Tried is a free web-based plagiarism checker that allows students to see if their work is original or if they have borrowed too much from original sources. Obviously, it's also a way to see if student's are cheating on their assignments.

Honestly, this simple to use tool can be helpful to students and teachers alike. There are several ways to check for plagiarism: copy and paste, upload a document, or search by the url. also checks content in a plethora of languages (in other words, too many for me to count).

Monday, January 24, 2011

To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test

Finally!  Research has proven my theory that testing actually increases learning!

A New York Times article (1/20/2011)To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test” by Pam Belluck reported that new research indicates that taking a test is not just a passive mechanism for assessing how much people know. It actually helps people learn, and it works more effectively than a number of other studying techniques such as repeatedly studying the material or by having students draw detailed diagrams documenting what they are learning which forces students to make connections among facts.

The research referenced “Retrieval Practice Produces More Learning than Elaborative Studying with Concept Mapping” was conducted by Jeffrey D. Karpicke and Janell R. Blunt of the Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University.

I have always thought that a test should be used as one of many teaching tools, but we sometimes get lost in what the overall score is telling us and not in what the components of the test are telling us. I hope you will read this entire article and the related research. It may change the way that you think about testing!

Also see: Top 20 Resources for a Successful Testing Program

Friday, January 21, 2011

Academically Adrift...Are College Students Learning Core Skills?

A new book entitled Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses (University of Chicago Press) states that more than a third of American college seniors are no better at crucial types of writing and reasoning tasks than they were in their first semester of college (see excerpt in the Chronicle of Higher Education).

The study, by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, of 3,000 students at 29 four-year universities found that 45 percent "did not demonstrate any significant improvement in learning" during their first two years in college as measured by the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA). The authors attributed much of the problem to easy courses and lax study habits.

Some of the key points to the book include:
  • US students today "define and understand their college experiences as being focused more on social than on academic development." 
  • In a particular semester, 32 percent of those surveyed did not take any course with more than 40 pages of reading per week and 50 percent did not take a single course in which they wrote more than 20 pages.
  • The study cited another report as saying that students now spend just 12 to 14 hours studying each week, 50 percent less than full-time college students did a few decades ago.
  • Much of this studying takes place in social group settings, which the report said are "not generally conducive to learning," and 35 percent of students said they spend five or fewer hours a week studying alone, it added.
  • The value of studying in groups is questioned as this "seems to be difficult for students to pull off in a way that promotes learning, as opposed to being a social occasion,"
 Also read, New Book Lays Failure to Learn on Colleges' Doorsteps by David Glenn

Do you believe that university students truly fail to develop critical thinking, reasoning and writing skills because of easy classes and too little time spent studying?

Are you aware of any studies that determine the development of critical thinking and reasoning skills with students in career and technology education?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Phenomenons Called Curiosity and Creativity

Artwork provided by Cameron Eades
Do you remember what it’s like to be a kid? Your days were filled with curiosity, you asked a million questions and the biggest, and most important questions of all were, “Why?” and “What if?” Those symbolic “brick walls” called problems that we all face were no match for the creativity and energy of a child.

So What Happened?

I often wonder why I don’t approach life in the same manner as I did as child. Have I really let cynicism replace curiosity? Why can’t I look at the world in the same sense of amazement as a child? I think these thoughts were, at times, resurrected when my children were young and even later on as I worked with students. Their approach to life added much joy and excitement to my own life as I watched the way they approached every imaginable task.

What kids innately have is a sense of curiosity and creativity. According to, "curiosity" is defined as "the desire to learn or know about anything"  and “creativity” is defined as the "ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination."

I’ve admired creative adults as I’ve read about them or watched movies or documentaries about their lives. Their stories are obviously amazing, but those are exceptional moments of creativity with a good public relations firm behind them.

Take Time to Notice

That’s right. We should take more time and use more energy when we interact with people because we are surrounded with unique, creative, and intelligent people. Every person has a myriad of life experiences that shape who they are and the skill sets that are unique to them. Their approach to any task will vary based upon those experiences.

It doesn’t matter who you meet. It could be a CEO or my mechanic or anyone that you meet, but people are just, to be honest, flat out brilliant! I’ve decided that taking the time to observe and witness the creativity and brilliance of others is my daily motivation to ask questions and to become creative in my own life.

I know I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know, but I hope this will remind you to take time with those around you, because you just might be amazed at their creativity and intelligence. You just might learn some amazing things from the most unlikely sources!

Artwork provided by Cameron Eades

A Commitment to Learning is the Key

I believe that learning from others is paramount to increasing creativity and performance. This may be selfish of me, but I hope you will join my personal learning network by following and commenting on this blog or on Twitter @CareerTechTest so I can learn from each of you (send me a message so that I will make sure to follow you)! 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

When an "A" Isn't Enough

I came across an article written by Charlie Boss in the August 22, 2010 edition of The Columbus Dispatch entitled "When an A Isn't Enough."

According to the article:
Despite earning good grades and taking honors courses in high school, many students find themselves ill-prepared for college. Some blame grade inflation or unrealistic expectations at the next level.

Perry Robinson, director of admissions at Denison University, said a culture of trophy students and helicopter parents has put more pressure on teachers to give higher grades. "We're more comfortable with a 'Gentleman's B,'" he said. "Before, if a student just shows up and does average work, they would get a C. Now, it's moved to a B."

A 2008 study by the nonprofit Strong American Schools found that nearly four in five remedial students nationwide had a high-school GPA of 3.0 or higher.

"For any kid that has high grades and a high GPA in high school and has to take a remedial course in college, there's a mismatch somewhere," said Ken O'Connor, author of How to Grade for Learning: Linking Grades to Standards.

The issue has been a concern for years: 55 percent of college professors said their states do a poor job of preparing students for college work, according to a 2007 ACT National Curriculum Survey.
I hope you will read the complete article as I have only provided a few of the significant points made by Boss.

Is the pressure placed upon teachers by these hovering "helicopter" parents the reason for this "mismatch" between high school and college educational requirements? Could it be the pressure placed upon educators by politicians that every student should obtain a college degree? It is the pressure to lower the dropout rate? Is it a combination of these factors or what factors do you think are involved in this issue? Is not not ok to give a student a "C" anymore?

I think these are all questions that we should not only ask, but a significant problem that needs to be solved. I hope you will let us know your thoughts after reading this thought provoking article by Charlie Boss in the The Columbus Dispatch.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Looking for a Better Way to Conduct Research? Try

I wanted to let you know about a search engine that I found yesterday that is great for research projects. is a reference based search engine that allows you to search education sites, government and military sites, online books, biographies and more. Simply enter your search terms and choose your source site category from the dropdown menu. also provides convenient access to other reference tools, including dictionaries, thesauri, encyclopedias, conversions sites, and calculators directly from the home page. It's a great starting point for school reports and term papers. The search engine is limited to educational materials so it helps to create a safe and focused environment for online research.

I have to admit that I can spend a lot of time just looking at the CIA World Factbook, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Library of Congress with no real purpose, just an inordinate amount of curiosity.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The CareerTech Testing Center's Top 25 Posts for 2010

I hope everyone had an incredible and safe holiday season!

I want to begin my first post of 2011 by thanking each of you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to take a look at our blog! I hope you will continue to read during the year and that you will share the blog with anyone that you think might have an interest.

I also wanted to begin 2011 with a review of what the readers liked best during 2010. So here they are...

The Top 25 Most Read Posts During 2010:

24. How Do We Address the Crisis in Teacher Retention?

23. Test Writing 101: Making The Grade

22. Are Tests a "Powerful Memory Enhancer"?

21. Free Book

20. Oklahoma Tech Center Eyes Kindles, iPhones for E-Learning

19. What Everyone Should Know About Google Search

18. Will iPad Revolutionize e-Learning?

17. New Entrepreneur Skills Standards and Assessment from the CareerTech Testing Center

16. Visual Dictionary Online

15. Culinary Techniques - A New Culinary Arts Product from MAVCC

14. The Latest Ways that Kids Cheat on Exams

13. What Are "Braindumps" and Why Should They Concern Us?

12. Mike Rowe, Dirty Jobs, and mikeroweWorks

11. Study Tips and Skills

10. Project Lead the Way

9. Response to Intervention

8. The Galatea Effect: A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Phenomenon

7. 5 Ways to Improve Student Test Performance

6. What Does "Generation Z" Mean for Education?

5. The Pygmalion Effect: Are You Guilty?

4. Why Do We Test Students?

3. Visual Thesaurus

2. National Consortium on Health Science and Technology Education

And the #1 most read post for 2010 is:

1. The Secret of Writing Multiple-Choice Test Items

Thank you again for reading and please share this blog with others. We don't allow advertising on the blog because we prefer to provide this as a service. We also hope you will provide feedback and tell us what you like or don't like or tell us what types of posts you would like to see in the future.

Have a happy, healthy and incredible 2011!

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