Exams and Brains


…all the brain sees are electro-chemical signals. it doesn’t care where they come from – David Eagleman said something close to this line a few moments ago on the stage in Vancouver during TED 2015, Truth or Dare.

I am presently fully involved in work around the idea of allowing technology on high-stakes exams and David Eagleman’s line illuminated something within that work for me.


I like to think in metaphors, I can be somewhat annoying that way, it helps me to better understand the ideas floating around my mind.

Often, I look at the brain as a metaphor for learning. I love what this line adds to this metaphor in terms of the evaluation of learning.

Think of final evaluation as something (a brain, perhaps 😉 ) that receives certain signals. The exam is a place to make sense of learner input, no matter how it is placed there. If the method of input has no bearing on the signals that are created – why do we need to limit how learners show us what they know, understand, and can do?

image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/healthblog/8384110298/sizes/l