Minding the Gap: Confronting the Standardized Testing Mindset in Higher Education


Teaching to the test has become standard practice in Japan. The uniformity of instruction this approach requires, as well as the apparent fairness of everyone being judged by the same standard, fits well within the parameters of conformity and equality that are hallmarks of Japanese society. Learners raised on this system become very comfortable with rote memorization and test taking strategies. Those that excel in this system are on track to join the professional classes as lawyers, business leaders, and doctors. In practical medical training at university level, however, complex, interacting variables in individuals and in populations as a whole confound this approach. 'Answers' are not simply a matter of black and white, of simply memorization, but rather the product of evolving knowledge of specific, interconnected, phenomena. The stark limitations of the 'standard' approach to learning are revealed though the 'gaps' students exhibit in their lack of prior knowledge, or presupposed misinformation. During this discussion I will present some of the 'gaps' that learners have revealed through their exposure to a variety of public health issues and some methods undertaken to broaden the critical thinking skills of learners. 'Gaps' in critical (scientific) methodology that will be touched on include; confirmation bias, cherry-picking studies, equating published study with scientific 'truth', and disinformation though cultural/national mythology.

Author Information
James Briganti, Nagasaki University School of Medicine, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACE2016
Stream: Adult and lifelong learning

This paper is part of the ACE2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon