Journal article Open Access

'Learning for the test': A study of students' sharing and discussing past multiple choice questions on Facebook

Tyagunova, Tanya; Greiffenhagen, Christian

This article explores the phenomenon of university students re-using past multiple-choice questions (MCQs) as a method of exam preparation. Based on online non-participant observation of student communication in Facebook groups supplemented by interviews with students and lecturers, it asks what it means to learn with past exam questions. By focussing on what students actually do, rather than what they say they do, our study: (1) challenges the view of MCQs as only encouraging memorisation, since learning with past MCQs also involves engaging with content in meaningful ways, and (2) argues there is a ‘double contingency’ of students’ learning and lecturers’ assessment strategies standing in a reflexive relationship with each other. The paper draws attention to the constitutive role of the practical aspects of learning and assessment and calls for more research from a praxeological perspective on the relation between particular assessment formats and the actual learning practices they generate.

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