If it can be Googled ….


“But the teacher said most of the kids who fail the test don’t know the formulas!” Griffin exclaimed as he focused on writing a series of 4 geometry formulas down. I wanted to focus on how to solve the problems, but Griffin was concerned with memorizing the formulas. Is this where Griffin’s valuable learning time should be spent?  Do engineers have all their formulas memorized? or can they Google it?

When I first started teaching I though it was important for students to learn (memorize) everything. Now I think differently. As an adult I don’t always have formulas on recall mode in my mind. I like to look them up to refresh my memory. For my students I list all the formulas we have been working on at the top of tests, along with a word bank for reference. I feel if it can be Googled, I shouldn’t assess it. I want my students understanding how to apply their knowledge, not regurgitate facts. In today’s world everyone is walking around with Google in their pocket.

Schools need to rethink how we assess in the secondary level. Students can do so much more than just site facts. Asking what the chemical symbol for gold (AU) is not going to measure anyone’s intelligence or tell if they are meeting a science standard. A better question would be: What family of elements is gold (AU) most likely to bond with? With a periodic table a student could show their understanding of elements. Assessments must move away from recall level questions up bloom’s taxonomy towards creation.


Sadly most standardized test are stuck in recall mode. Our society is stuck in a pre-google notion that recall equals intelligence. Recall is just a muscle that if given enough exercise it can be impressive. Many of our students can recite sports teams rosters, quote movies or sing the words to popular songs, does this make them intelligent? No it makes them have information they value. Our students need to learn how to apply ANY knowledge. If I were creating a standardized test, I would want everyone to start on a level playing field. Giving test takers all information needed to solve the problem. Then give space and time for a solution to be found. Instead most test measure recall skills from what might have already been taught.

If a assessment question can be Googled to find an answer, it is not a good question!


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