Monday, September 7, 2009

The WHMIS Test

Among the first acts undertaken by teachers in my district school board, is the annual WHMIS training/testing. In short, teachers are reminded of the safety guidelines for working with hazardous materials in the workplace, and then are 'tested' to demonstrate their understanding of related policies, procedures and guidelines.

When it comes to the culminating test, teachers are asked to complete a multiple choice quiz that includes questions drafted with the intent to deceive. Our response: Cheat!

Most teachers undertake the quiz in a group setting where answers are openly shared. Others take the quiz online, with a web browser open to the content of the WHMIS presentation. And in the most extreme cases, educators simply fill in the correct answers as a group, under the direction of the 'teacher'.

Even though the information is presented for the safety and well-being of students and teachers alike, my experience is that most educators demonstrate a genuine disdain for the entire process. While teachers wouldn't give such a test to students without rigid structures in place to ensure the validity of the test, we somehow see it as OK to just wink our way through the exercise.

Maybe it shouldn't bug me so much, but I wish more teachers recognized the folly of such tests when working with their own students!

Image Credit: Keven Law
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