My experiences as a creative person, tutor of children, and teacher of creative writing

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Helping Your Struggling Student - Test Taking

Visual-spatial children may have considerable difficulty with tests in school since most are designed to evaluate auditory-sequential strengths.

Visual-spatial students can improve in their test taking results if they
are given practice in how to read tests. They need to understand what is being asked and what is the purpose of the test. Having the child practice identifying the important words in the question, underlining or circling them in a color, and numbering the order to preform the tasks may help the student do better on the test.

It is important to check to see what is being tested. If the test is trying to measure mathematical ability, then it is appropriate to read the test to them if their reading skills are weak, or you will not get an accurate evaluation of their mathematical ability.

Often visual-spatial students know far more than they are able to express. To evaluate what they know you must make sure you are giving the child the opportunity to understand the question and express what they know to you.

Frequently, adults assume that visual-spatial children are slow. They judge them as retarded auditory-sequential people which is inaccurate. It is difficult for most people who are not visual-spatial to comprehend the astounding abilities and speed that thinking in pictures gives to an individual. Consequently, the adult “trying to help” the visual-spatial child may speak slowly, break things into even smaller parts, do even more repetitive drill (favorites are phonic and math fact drills), carefully sequence, ask “easy (for auditory-sequential people) low level” questions such as dates and names, and give small assignments.

In actuality, what works best with visual-spatial students is to move quickly, give the whole picture, eliminate drill (if the child can show they can do it, then they are done), ask “difficult higher level” questions such as “why”, “what is the purpose” and “what is going to happen next or because of this?”.

They also need to be allowed to choose their own projects to study and be given time to research their topic in depth. If they are interested in what they study, they will do better on tests.

It must always be remembered that the visual-spatial child must translate everything into pictures before they can understand it, and they must also translate their picture thoughts into words. This will take more time, so they may need to be allowed more time for tests.

Timed tests, or any test, may cause so much anxiety in the child that they may not be able to function. A particular problem they encounter is that they can only access information from their brain if they are relaxed. Try commanding your brain to come up with a creative idea– it simply won’t work. Knowing that they can retake the test, have extra time, using notes for formulas, dates, names will help.

Taking the test in a quiet place may help since they are often very aware of sounds around them and find them distracting. People moving near them, or too many posters etc. around them may also be distracting.

Essay questions may give some students the opportunity to express their considerable understanding of the concepts. Fill in the blank tests may be extremely difficult for a visual-spatial person. They may see a movie in their head about the Boston Tea Party and understand why it was important, but be completely unable to remember the date of the party. Their brain simply does not think in dates and numbers. If the child is not able to express what they know in written language, then they may be able to explain it in an oral examination.