Note: Information about the series is from watching the anime adaptation directed by Ōnuma (2010), apart from what is linked.

Literally translated to ‘Idiots, Tests and Summoned Beasts’, this is a lighthearted series with implausibly large nosebleeds, food bad enough to floor people and so forth. Still, it introduced another educational system.

The test scores translate to both health and attack points for the students’ summoned beasts, usually used for tournaments and fights. To potentially recharge health/attack points, students are allowed to answer as many test papers as possible within a time limit. Hence, frequency is measured with unlimited response opportunities, arguably a more comprehensive measure of performance than accuracy-only methods with a set number of response opportunities (Binder, 1996). Following the logic of the argument, students who have achieved 100% on three papers have performed better than students who have achieved 100% on one paper within the same time. Hence, this testing procedure can effectively identify different levels of abilities (Binder, 1996).

However, with the health/attack points directly linked to test scores, overt peer comparisons and competitions were common, which may encourage the less effective performance goals for learning (Ames, 1992; Meece, Anderman & Anderman, 2006). This is the goal to surpass others of a certain level, where the criterion of consuming little effort to succeed is common (Ames, 1992). Whereas, mastery goals focus on bettering one’s self, leading more likely to effortful involvement (Ames, 1992). Research has linked mastery rather than performance goals to higher quality and longer term immersion with learning (Ames, 1992). Linnenbrink and Pintrich (2002), nevertheless, concluded that there are two types of performance goals and the competitive type is beneficial, while the avoidance type is not. Still, this system may not benefit everyone.

I also disagree with how this fictional educational system treats students from different class levels. The facility quality positively correlates with class level, e.g. the lowest level class gets broken or breaking furniture. This could link self-worth to test scores, which can negatively impact the performances of even students associated with positive stereotypes (Lawrence & Crocker, 2009). Hence, even the students who got plasma televisions in their classrooms. This reference of self-worth from intelligence can also distress other areas of life, including love (Lemay & Clark, 2008). The larger the influence of performance on self-worth, the greater the relationship dissatisfaction is and the more praise is doubted (Lemay & Clark, 2008). Meanwhile, increasing the effects of praise can a part of treatment plans as it is a preferable reinforcer (Brown, 1971). Thus, this facility quality to level relationship can hinder performance and the effects of praise.

In summary, the testing procedure is effective, but the health/attack points to test scores and facility quality to level relationships could potentially undermine performance. Moreover, other areas of life could be negatively affected by the possible mentalities induced by the system. Hence, I do not recommend the whole system as it is, only the testing procedure.

References

Ames, C. (1992). Classrooms: Goals, structures, and student motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 84, 261-271. doi:10.1037//0022-0663.84.3.261

Binder, C. (1996). Behavioral fluency: Evolution of a new paradigm. The Behavior Analyst, 19, 163-197.

Brown, R. A. (1971). Interaction effects of social and tangible reinforcement. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 12, 289-303. doi:10.1016/0022-0965(71)90026-9

Lawrence, J. S., & Crocker, J. (2009). Academic contingencies of self-worth impair positively- and negatively-stereotyped students’ performance in performance-goal settings. Journal of Research in Personality, 43, 868–874. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2009.05.002

Lemay, E. P., Jr., & Clark, M. S. (2008). ‘‘You’re Just Saying That.” Contingencies of self-worth, suspicion, and authenticity in the interpersonal affirmation process. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 1376-1382. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2008.05.001

Linnenbrink, E. A., & Pintrich, P. R. (2002). Motivation as an enabler for academic success. School Psychology Review, 31, 313-327.

Meece, J. L., Anderman, E. M., & Anderman, L. H. (2006). Classroom goal structure, student motivation, and academic achievement. Annual Review of Psychology, 57, 487-503.

Ōnuma, S. (Director). (2010). Baka to Test to Shōkanjū [Motion picture]. Japan: Silver Link.

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