It’s interesting to think about and debate the effects of exams on learners, but what is the effects on course developers?
I was helping a couple of SMEs create exam questions recently, and the dialog between the SMEs was really interesting. “Do you think we do enough in the course to really help learners understand that concept? Maybe we’ll need another example. Do you think we make that point clearly enough?” And so on. Crafting exam questions really made them think hard about what they were teaching and how they were teaching it. I don’t always see this kind of introspection sparked, but it is a lot of fun when I do.
Back when I was first learning how to create instructional designs, I was taught to write the objectives first, and then the exam questions, and only then do you start to design the course. The idea being that if you have difficulty writing exam questions, you may lack clarity around your objectives. It was great advice, and saved me a ton of design time over the years.