Monday, April 23, 2018

Exams – are they really learning opportunities?

submitted by Peg Balachowski, Associate Dean of Teaching & Learning at EvCC

“Some faculty members lament that exams can be missed opportunities to cultivate learning because worries about grades consume students' attention. What if there were a better way?”

In a recent post in the Teaching and Learning newsletter (courtesy of The Chronicle for Higher Education) the authors described a two-stage exam:

“Here’s how it works: Students take an exam individually... After they submit their answers, they split into groups of three to five students and go over the test together to hash out the answers.” Hmmm… you might be wondering if students who know this is the exam protocol would neglect to prepare for the exam. I wondered that too. The faculty who used this technique decided to test whether students had really learned anything from the group session and gave a surprise quiz just a few days later on the same material. Note that this was an INDIVIDUAL quiz. To their delight, “students who tested collaboratively learned the correct answers to more than one-third of the questions they had initially answered incorrectly on the tests they had taken individually. And, when students were tested three days later, the knowledge largely stuck.”

Is that enough of a boost in learning to convince you to try this technique? Let us know if you do and how your students did!

By the way, you can sign up to receive the Teaching and Learning Newsletter from the Chronicle by going to this site.

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