Joined: June 2006
I generally agree with the conclusions reached by everyone else. I am, however, a proponent of essay tests. I think that they are the best way to evaluate what someone knows. I think the quibble here is on how we evaluate said tests.
As Louis stated, merely making the "essay" requirement one that has a cite and a conclusion is never productive. But, if this is the model, I don't see it as really being an essay. The point of essay tests is (or should be) to evaluate an argument. It is not enough to merely quote someone and leave it. Rather, find a reference, evaluate it, state a theory and support it with logical argumentation. This is an essay.
Here in the US there is much clamor in educational debates over "teaching to the test." However, I think that this is a fabulous idea. When people bring this argument, I think they really mean we "teach to the answer." This is the flaw as I see it. I believe it is the responsibility of educators to design tests not for answers, but for arguments. These tests can only be evaluated by exploring what the students comprehend about a subject--a properly evaluated essay is a fine demonstration of their knowledge or lack thereof.
But I get the trick question- there isn't any such thing as one molecule of water. -JoeG
And scientists rarely test theories. -Gary Gaulin