Press "Enter" to skip to content

Why Does the CLAA Use General Questions for Assessment?

Enroll in the Academy Tutorial Program

In Academy courses, I often assess student work with written assessments in which I ask general questions concerning each lesson in a course. For example, in the Academy’s Classical Reasoning course, I ask students to answer the same following questions for every lesson:

  1. Please state the name of the author, title, book and chapter studied in this reading.
  2. Summarize your recent/previous readings in the subject/course to prepare the context for this chapter.
  3. What is the principal subject of the present reading? (This is often stated by the author.)
  4. As you read and review the chapter, make a list/outline of the topics addressed. For each topic listed, give a brief summary of what is said about it.
  5. Briefly summarize the content of this chapter.

The first reason for asking general questions like these is that they can only be answered by students who actually study the lesson. They have to read the lesson and prove their knowledge of it.

If I ask a specific content question, like, “What does Aristotle mean by the term energies?”, a student can Google that question and find answers online. They can then simply copy and paste them, or change the wording around a little bit to appear original. I can easily detect this and have caught a number of students doing this in the past. The methods used by modern schools and study programs allow–and tempt–students to cheat in this way. General questions make this impossible.

The students also benefit from these questions because they require the student to study, think and articulate the content of their studies. There is nothing more embarrassing to a school or homeschool than to have someone ask a student, “So, what are you learning?” and have the student mumble, “Uh, I don’t know, like Math and stuff.” These assessments require a student to constantly articulate the content of their studies, making them able to speak about their studies. This is very important for future admission interviews, essays, etc.

So, there are a number of important reasons for my use of general questions in lesson assessment in the Classical Liberal Arts Academy.

This method of assessment requires far more work from me, and I would avoid it if I could. First, only a tutor who knows the content of the lessons can assess the quality of a student’s response to general questions. Therefore, I have to grade all student work and make sure students are not cutting corners. I spend one entire day a week grading student work! Second, because of this demand for review by a teacher who knows the lesson content, “answer keys” cannot be made and distributed to unqualified assistants to merely check over. I have to bear the burden of grading myself and cannot delegate it to others. I work to ensure that students in the Academy are completing the studies and that takes time and expertise. Academy students aren’t cheating as they are in many other schools and study programs.

They can’t.

God bless,
William C. Michael, Headmaster
Classical Liberal Arts Academy

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Mission News Theme by Compete Themes.