The Flourishing Academic

A blog for teacher-scholars published by the Duquesne University Center for Teaching Excellence

picture of carpet with phrase, " I can show you the WrHLD"


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I Can Show You the WrHLD

Benjamin-Goldschmidt

by Benjamin S. Goldschmidt, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Duquesne University

Have you ever been so busy you forgot a meeting even though you had entered it in your calendar? Since becoming an assistant professor, I have done this many times–as hard as it is to admit.  I believe the reason has to do with cognitive load. Cognitive load is the amount you can store in your short-term memory at the same time. As professors, we are tasked with many different duties such as performing research, mentoring and teaching students, and overseeing special projects for student groups and the department.  The cognitive load we bear is significant. Thus the stereotype of an absent-minded professor can be quite real.

Have you ever considered the cognitive load on your students? Put yourself in a student’s shoes. Their cognitive load is for new tasks as socialization to college, apartment/residence living, and employment, in addition to taking multiple classes each semester. One common problem all academic institutions have is simply getting students to turn in their work on time, or sometimes at all. People attribute this to varied reasons such as student choices or the difficulty of the work, but what if that isn’t the whole story? What if the organization of our courses has a dramatic impact on whether or not students submit assignments?

image of student clasping head in stress, with word "overload" looming above head

To investigate this, I ran an informal experiment during the first semester I taught Biomaterials & Characterization Techniques at Duquesne University. I asked students to turn in one single document every Monday at noon called a “WrHLD.” WrHLD, pronounced “world,” stands for the four weekly assignments: Writing, Homework, Lab and Design. I uploaded a template (WrHLWrHLD) to the Blackboard course site so that the students could simply drop the four assignments into a pre-formatted single submission each week.

Although students found the course challenging, by the end I noticed a greater than 50% reduction in the number of students forgetting to submit weekly work, compared to a previous course with weekly assignments.  And this occurred despite the course requiring a lot of student work.

This isn’t to say that I haven’t had missteps with this technique. One unexpected piece of the cognitive load was that I asked students to label each WrHLD with a number corresponding to which week of the semester we were in (i.e. Week 1 = WrHLD #1). This, however, proved to be a comparatively complex process. The students turned in their work, but overwhelmingly forgot what week we were in. I often got WrHLDs without numbers and had to determine the week by the content. In the future, I will simply use the date the assignment is due rather than an arbitrary number. I expect to see a significant improvement in labeling assignments once this is implemented.


image of calendar showing assignment due at noon every MondayAfter giving it some thought, I believe the improvement in student submission of weekly work resulted from three factors.

  1. Consistent, weekly due dates that do not change throughout the semester
  2. Having a single consolidated assignment for students to turn in each week
  3. Having a memorable acronym (WrHLD) along with a template available on Blackboard to remind students of what they need to submit every week

Each factor reduces the cognitive load for students by simplifying what they have to remember week to week. Having reduced the extraneous cognitive load on students, I can now guide them in focusing on important course content and skills rather than on when and what assignments are due.

Image Credits: The hand drawn  images in this post were created by Kiara Yough, student aide at Duquesne’s Center for Teaching Excellence and a Biomedical Engineering student. 

 

undergraduate research program picnic at Duquesne University


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Best Practices in Mentoring Students: A Reflection

head shot Ben Kolberby Benedict J. Kolber, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Department of Biological Sciences, Duquesne University

“Mentoring” has been a buzzword in higher education for years, but its meaning varies by context. Mentoring relationships can be spontaneous and organic or assigned and structured. Mentoring occurs among faculty, staff, and students, and between peers and non-peers, alike. One  common mentoring relationship occurs between faculty and students — especially when faculty work individually with undergraduate and graduate students on research or projects.

The level of mentoring proficiency varies widely and does not directly correlate with the number of students mentored nor years experience. This may be due to how mentoring is typically learned. Most people mentor others as they have been mentored. So, your ability to mentor students effectively is a chance coming together of your previous experience as a mentee and your personal reflection on mentoring relationships. Unfortunately, even for those with positive mentoring role models, elements of mentoring, like those related to diversity and inclusion, often need to be developed.

To learn good mentoring practice and reflect on their own experiences, several Duquesne faculty participated in Entering Mentoring in spring 2017. This program, originally developed by the Wisconsin Program for Scientific Teaching, is a free and customizable curriculum designed to guide both experienced and novice mentors.  At Duquesne, the program was supported by deans from Liberal Arts, Natural & Environmental Sciences, Health Sciences, and Pharmacy as well as by the Office of Research and the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE).   The workshop was facilitated by Erin Rentschler and Laurel Willingham-McLain from CTE, Philip Palmer from the sciences, and myself.

We met weekly to talk about these topics:

  1. Mentoring Goals and Expectations
  2. Assessing Understanding and Fostering Independence
  3. Mentoring Challenges and Solutions
  4. Addressing Diversity
  5. Dealing with Ethics
  6. Developing a Mentoring Philosophy

At the sessions, we discussed readings and cases, and peer-reviewed documents.  For me, one of the more valuable exercises was the development of a mentoring compact.  This  document, given to a new mentee (e.g. a new student in my biology laboratory), describes my expectations for them and things they can expect of me. It discusses our mentoring relationship, and also includes nuts and bolts of how to be successful in my laboratory.

group of undergraduate research students Duquesne University outside on academic walk

Undergraduate Research Program students with Ben Kolber, Duquesne University

Throughout the program we reflected on and shared best practices in mentoring. The participants represented diverse research fields, faculty rank, and opinions, which resulted in a robust discussion.  Here is some mentoring advice the participants gave for new mentors:

Think about goals and set expectations

  • Think about the environment and community that you are trying to develop.  Then work backwards towards the expectations and compact. This is backwards design of mentoring.
  • Put together a mentoring compact to set clear expectations for mentor and mentee.  

Mentor for student growth

  • People matter.  People change. Relationships are going to change with individual students over time.
  • You might be surprised by the ideas that come from undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Be patient with students.  Give them time to grow and learn.
  • Give students second chances.  People can respond well with clearly defined expectations.
  • Don’t be a helicopter parent.

    URP students poster

    Undergraduate Research Program student poster session, Duquesne University

Grow as a mentor

  • It is okay for you and the students to make mistakes.
  • Ask for help to learn how to mentor.  
  • Get perspective on other fields and how they mentor.  
  • You don’t have to be the perfect mentor in every way. Pick your strengths.
  • Suggest other mentors for your students.   You don’t have to do everything.

Mentoring – the big picture

  • Mentoring is fun.  
  • You are a representative of academia/institution to the public.  The students are watching. You may not even realize that you are mentoring a student.
  • Mentoring is a process not a destination.  
  • There is value in getting together with others to talk about mentoring.

And most importantly…

  • Don’t be intimidated by “best practices” lists. Start with small changes in your mentoring, reflect, and then adjust.

Overall, the Entering Mentoring program received strong reviews from the faculty participants. In particular, some very experienced faculty reported receiving much more out of the program than they expected, and some younger faculty were surprised at how much they could contribute to the discussion.

The next round of Entering Mentoring  is planned for summer 2018. So watch out Duquesne, the mentors are coming!


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What Are We Doing and Why? Transparent Assignment Design Benefits Students and Faculty Alike

Photo of Kasey Christopher at microscopeBy Kasey Christopher, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Duquesne University

As a biology professor, I like to imagine that the relevance of my subject matter is indisputable. Don’t we all? Unfortunately, I don’t always clarify how the focused exercises I ask students to do will translate into the “big picture” learning objectives I expect them to meet. It may be obvious to a student why abilities to hypothesize or interpret experimental data are useful in any career; it is decidedly less clear how writing about the appearance of worms in a petri dish serves these goals.

When I joined the Duquesne faculty in Fall 2015, I had little experience designing assessments. My instructions were rarely as clear as I thought. I failed to provide a context for what I was asking and for what students could hope to gain from completing the assignment, other than a grade. I tweaked assignments to increase clarity, but lacked the tools for dramatic improvement until I attended a 2016 Duquesne CTE workshop on Transparent Assignment Design presented by Mary-Ann Winkelmes.  This workshop revolutionized my approach to assignments, with little additional effort on my part. The tenets and inclusive nature of Transparent Assignment Design have been discussed on the Flourishing Academic before, so I won’t rehash them here. Briefly, transparent assignments are constructed with three key components: purpose, task, and criteria for success. This lies in stark contrast with the more traditional approach of providing only the task, perhaps with a rubric attached for higher-stakes assignments.

At the workshop, I practiced applying these principles to an assignment in which I asked students to examine mutant roundworms and speculate as to the developmental basis of their defects. When I gave the original version of the assignment, many students struggled with understanding how to guess the cause of the worms’ appearance. I refined the new “transparent” version of the assignment and put it into practice the next semester.  (The original and redesigned assignments have been submitted to the TILT Higher Ed project and are accessible here: https://www.unlv.edu/sites/default/files/page_files/27/Example-E-Biology.pdf.)worms from assignment

I was shocked at the results; by simply mentioning that learning to make observations and hypotheses was part of the key goal, and providing a successful sample response, I avoided the vast majority of confused student questions. Concurrently, the depth of thought that students put into their hypotheses increased noticeably.

Since attending Dr. Winkelmes’s workshop, I have incorporated this paradigm into every assignment I give. I believe the benefits to students are twofold: (1) Detailed criteria for success lead to improved clarity of expectations, showing students what I am asking them to do. (2) A specific purpose fosters deeper appreciation of the value of the assignment, explaining why I am asking them to do this and motivating students to spend more time thinking about their work. In particular, breaking the purpose into knowledge and skills  (Figure 1) emphasizes that the activities are useful not just for learning this specific content, but for honing skills that will be broadly applicable throughout college and postgraduate careers.

TAD Christopher figure 1 revFrom my perspective, the perks to faculty are impressive. It has made grading easier: fewer students completely miss the mark, while more adhere to the appropriate formatting and style. Coupled with demonstrated evidence of the student outcomes (Winkelmes et al., 2016), this would be sufficient motivation to use this assignment structure. However, I have noticed further indirect gains. First, by removing the confusion about basic requirements, I find that students worry less about what their assignment should look like, focusing more energy on content. I relish responding to questions about the impact of various mutations rather than about whether they must re-type the questions. Additionally, putting the purpose into writing forces me to think carefully about designing assignments that truly help students meet learning objectives. Creating specific criteria for success helps me anticipate common problems, thinking preemptively about what constitutes a good response.

Dr. Winkelmes and her colleagues have published strong evidence about the positive learning impact of showing students what you expect of them and why you are asking them to do specific tasks.  My experience suggests that as educators, asking ourselves the same questions can have a deep impact on teaching without drastic changes to our courses or large impositions on our time.

Works Cited:

Christopher, K. (2016) Sample E: C. elegans Mutant Phenotypes Assignment. Retrieved from TILT Higher Ed Examples and Resources. https://www.unlv.edu/provost/transparency/tilt-higher-ed-examples-and-resources

Winkelmes, M., Bernacki, M., Butler, J., Zochowski, M., Golanics, J., & Weavil, K. H. (2016). A teaching intervention that increases underserved college students’ success. Peer Review, 18(1), 31-36. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1805184428?accountid=10610.

 


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Just a TAD – Transparent Assignment Design

laurel-2013 

by Laurel Willingham-McLain, Director, Center for Teaching Excellence, Duquesne University


Imagine
a simple practice you can do that strongly promotes student performance on assignments.

In several national studies of courses using transparency in learning and teaching, students report in pre/post surveys significantly increased academic confidence and sense of belonging compared to students in courses not using the transparent assignment design.  This finding is statistically more significant for students from underserved populations. Prior research connects academic confidence and sense of belonging with student persistence and grades (Winkelmes et al., 2016).

Transparent assignment design is a systematic way to be transparent about the purpose, task and criteria of assignments to promote students’ learning.  It can apply to all kinds of assignments, small and big.  Focusing on these three components of assignments is beneficial to both faculty and students.

tad chart

We invited Duquesne faculty who have implemented transparency over the past year or so to provide insights.  Rebecca Cepek reflected on it in a recent post, Parallelograms and Poetry.

Some faculty told us they embrace transparent design because it builds on what they already do: “Smaller changes seem far better! They don’t lead to destroying things that are here, but build upon them. It’s not the ‘throw out’ culture and making change just for change sake.” “I can utilize the ideas I have and combine them with things others have already tried and validated. [This] gives me the language to discuss and understand the techniques I try in class.”

Transparent assignment design can help instructors develop confidence because it provides both structure and flexibility. One faculty member said this is “a very practical method to structure assignments.” Prior she had just been “trying to replicate assignments that other instructors had created.” By using the transparency framework, this instructor began to find her own teaching identity.

Students want to connect learning to their lives. One instructor noted that by explicitly calling attention to “how an assignment will relate to [students] now and in their future careers,” she can better demonstrate the meaning, value, and relevance of assignments. Another wrote: “Transparent assignment design has helped me make clear how exactly the assignments they complete in my class will prepare them for the future.”

Faculty noted that the exercise of implementing transparency helped them recognize how sometimes they weren’t even sure themselves what they expected students to get out of an assignment: “I haven’t always consciously stated (to myself) exactly why I want students to do certain assignments/tasks. […] I have come to better understand how each individual assignment I give contributes to the course’s learning goals.”

Respondents talked about imagining student perspectives: one person reported trying “to escape my own perspective more when designing even ‘straightforward’ (or so I think!) assignments.”  Another reflected that “This design process has really helped me put myself in my students’ places so that I can make it crystal clear what I’m looking for in their work.”

Transparency surfaces confusion and knowledge/skill gaps. For instance, “when students complain about something I ask them to do, it isn’t necessarily because they don’t want to be challenged to learn new material; rather, it’s more likely they don’t understand either how to do the assignment or how the assignment contributes to their learning.” At first the instructor equated transparency with hand-holding, but she now sees how being more explicit in helping students with the what, how, and why of an assignment can foster more rigorous learning, because transparency has “removed the obstacle of figuring out why an assignment is important and opened the door to the real obstacle of learning the material.”

Finally, re-writing one or two assignments and seeing the resultant changes in students’ attitudes and performance energizes faculty to integrate transparency into other assignments, as well as into their communications with students during class, lab, and lectures.

Steve Hansen, Erin Rentschler and I recently submitted a chapter expanding on these perspectives for the forthcoming book,  Transparent Design in Higher Education Teaching and Leadership (edited by Mary-Ann. Winkelmes, Allison Boye and Suzanne Tapp, Stylus Publishing).

Learn more


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One Small Thing…

headshotErin Rentschler, Center for Teaching Excellence, Duquesne University

If you could make one small change to your teaching repertoire and create the potential for significant impact on student learning, would you try it?

Over the past year or so, several colleagues at Duquesne University have been exploring just this notion of small teaching, a concept presented by James Lang in Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning.  Lang argues, that You can create powerful learning for your students through the small, everyday decisions you make in designing your courses, engaging in classroom practice, communicating with your students, and addressing any challenges that arise.”

small ballComparing the notion of small teaching to baseball’s small ball (that idea that ball games are won through “simple, incremental strategies” that get players from base to base), Lang writes that it’s unrealistic to think that instructors have time for “sudden and dramatic transformation” of their teaching when they have so many responsibilities. The result? His book of small teaching strategies that can be implemented with minor, if any disruption, to your course design.

This notion aligns with CTE’s SCALE initiative (Small Changes Advancing Learning).  Our Fall 2017 SCALE UP micro workshops highlighted Lang’s strategies for helping students retrieve knowledge, connect information for greater understanding, and foster a growth mindset. At each 30 minute workshop, CTE staff highlighted key points from the respective sections of Small Teaching, and provided faculty and graduate student participants with opportunities to design a strategy for a small change that they could implement later in the semester, the week – or even later that day!

Here are some examples of the small changes faculty at Duquesne envision.

b and white group

Faculty statements of the “one small thing” they might try to increase student learning

Spending just a few minutes of class time to focus on the process of learning can have a significant impact on student learning because it fosters a growth mindset.  Carol Dweck describes growth mindset as a state of mind that helps students take risks, challenge themselves, and persist in their learning, because they believe that intelligence is not a fixed trait, but one that can increase with practice and hard work.process-of-learning-resized1.jpg

Another method is to provide feedback that fosters growth. Think: “This topic is challenging, but by continuing to work with it, you’ll grow your brain and have a better understanding” rather than “Perhaps you should change your topic.” Yet another method for fostering growth? Promote success strategies by having experienced students write tips for succeeding in the course and sharing them with new students. These strategies reinforce that learning is a process that develops over time.

Likewise, giving “quizlets” in class provides students with low stakes opportunities to practice retrieving knowledge. This is important because, as Lang writes, “the more times any of us practice remembering something we are trying to learn, the more firmly we lodge it in our memories for the long term.”  Quizzes and tests not only measure learning; they are valuable tools that “help students exercise their memory muscles to improve and solidify their knowledge base.” Reconceiving of quizzes and tests as “retrieval practice” can decrease anxiety and places emphasis on how learning happens.

And guess what! These activities can also help students to discover connections between old knowledge and new knowledge. Calling attention to these connections helps students fortify their foundations. Because students don’t always see the larger organizational picture that we can see as experts in our fields, our helping them retrieve old knowledge and map new knowledge networks deepens learning.   A small teaching strategy for helping students connect information is to draw concept maps, visual depictions that identify connections between ideas in succinct ways.

Like the sound of some of these strategies? Hungry for more? Check out Lang’s book or – better yet – join the author and regional faculty who have been exploring small teaching strategies at the first annual Pittsburgh Regional Faculty Symposium on March 16, 2018.  Think you have a small teaching strategy that could help your colleagues? Submit a proposal by November 1! Details below.

Call for Proposals

The Pittsburgh Regional Faculty Symposium welcomes proposals across four session types from all faculty, graduate students, librarians, instructional designers, and others involved in teaching and learning or educational development:

  • Concurrent Interactive Workshops
  • Steal My Idea / Pecha Kucha
  • Recipes for Success
  • Posters

Sessions may be presented by individuals or small groups. The proposals will be blind reviewed by colleagues from across the region.

For details on session types, click here.

To submit a proposal, click here.

We look forward to hearing about your small teaching ideas. CTE staff are available to consult on your proposals.


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Parallelograms and Poetry: helping first generation students connect

Cepek Photo

Rebecca Cepek, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of English, Duquesne University

A friend recently posted this joke on a social media site.parallelogram

This reminded me that students often do not understand the value of an assignment, especially first-generation college students, who often find themselves overwhelmed by minutiae that traditional students easily navigate. How to read a syllabus, paper prompt, or rubric are hurdles that must be cleared before they can even think about completing the assignment itself.

First-generation students are thus often doing twice the work of traditional students before they even begin an assignment. If, at this point, students cannot see or understand how these assignments align with their overall educational, career, or personal goals, they are likely to become discouraged, and to question why they are learning about parallelograms—or poetry—rather than something that seems more practical.

Transparent assignment design addresses this issue by explicitly communicating the skills and knowledge that students will acquire or increase through completion of the assignment. These skills are articulated as both discipline-specific and “real world” skills.

For example, a transparently designed close reading of a poem explains that students will gain and improve skills in understanding and analyzing literary texts and analyzing how literary devices help create meaning in texts, as well as critical reading and comprehension of complex texts.

Cepek assignment flow chart darker

Close Reading of a Poem Assignment

 

Furthermore, transparent assignment design also requires an explanation of when and how these skills will be used. For this assignment, I explain that the ability to comprehend and analyze difficult texts is a skill that they will find necessary in other classes, and also one that will be essential to their success, both personal and professional, outside of academia. Mastering the analysis of poetry specifically, which is often dense and multilayered, will prepare them for any similar texts they may encounter and will help them come to an understanding and appreciation of the many nuances and levels of language.

This type of transparency is particularly useful for students who cannot see the connections between reading a poem and reading a report. Indeed, many students struggle to make these connections, but it is of paramount importance for first-generation students who need to be reassured that the benefits of higher education are worth the sacrifices – emotional, personal, and financial – that they are making to pursue that education.

In addition to helping first-generation students understand the value of assignments, it also aids in the successful completion of those assignments. This requires a change from what Mary-Ann Winkelmes, creator of transparent assignment design, calls “a ‘gatekeeper’ perspective,” the mistaken idea “that if a student can’t figure out the unwritten but implied purposes, tasks, and criteria for an assignment, that student shouldn’t succeed in the course and shouldn’t continue in the discipline.”

Instead, transparent assignment design lays out the steps needed to complete an assignment in a simple and easy to understand way, explaining terms (such as close reading) that are often unfamiliar to first-generation students. This is crucial to the success of students, who hesitate to ask for help, especially for understanding something that it seems like all of their peers already understand.

In my experiences with freshman composition, transparent assignment design has been immensely helpful for both traditional and nontraditional students alike. It has also forced me to articulate the value not only of my assignments but of my discipline, as well as how my chosen discipline is interconnected with other disciplines. Finally, transparent assignment design is a minor change that instructors can make, with huge benefits for everyone, but especially for first-generation students.  Because ultimately, it is always parallelogram season.


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Helping Students Reflect on Study Habits

In January 2017, CTE interviewed Pamela Spigelmyer, Faculty, School of Nursing about her use of exam wrappers to help students learn. thumbnail_pamela-spigelmyer_0003

What is an exam wrapper?

It’s a reflection by students on their exam performance. It stimulates them to think about the effort they put into studying for the exam, and the barriers to achieving their best score. I ask students to do the following:

  • tell how much time they studied and estimate the percentage of time they spent on various study methods
  • analyze the reason for the points they lost on the exam
  • state their study plans
  • suggest ways I can support them for the next exam. [see sample wrapper below]

Tell me how you have used exam wrappers.

I have used them on the midterm exam in three different courses. Students can use their reflection on the midterm to improve their learning in the second half of the semester.

In my freshmen class this fall it went really well. I was surprised at the list of things they said they were going to do to improve for the next exam. When I asked, “what can I do to help you,” there were only minor comments. This makes sense, because I was already administering frequent quizzes and giving them clicker questions in class. They were getting practice.

What have you learned in the process?

Some of the comments I got back really opened my eyes to what students thought was effective study. For example, some students created 50-60 page study guides by cutting and pasting from the book. They explained that this guide was all they used for studying and claimed that it should have been enough. But they didn’t do well, and I was able to provide that as evidence back to them.

I put student grades into two ranges and made a chart of the study methods students in each range said they used. Then I presented it saying, “if you want to achieve a higher grade, here’s an idea of what some of your classmates did.” chart-low-high-performance

Once I had a student who honestly reported on the exam wrapper that she had studied zero time. She had not looked at any material in preparing for the midterm exam. She apparently didn’t implement the study methods we talked about after the midterm, and performed poorly on the final exam. Then, at the end of the course, she challenged the grade. The exam wrapper served as evidence that she hadn’t put in the effort needed to achieve a better grade.

Do you have a way for students to refer back to their reflection? How do you administer the exam wrapper?

They always have the wrapper available on Blackboard. Right after the midterm exam closes, the exam wrapper assignment opens up. I tell them it is not graded, but it is required. Most students complete the 10-15 minute reflection within the 24-hour window.

Here’s the sequence: students take the online exam, receive the score immediately and then are asked to reflect on the exam and their studyingexam-wrapper-assignment-sp2017

I tell students that I use exam wrappers to identify areas where I can help them improve, and that they should use it for looking at their learning and areas for growth.

How have you used exam wrappers to help students?

Several students have mentioned stress anxiety. This gives me an opportunity to guide students to the Counseling and Wellness Center. In the past, they could have struggled without me knowing, but now I can pick that up at midterm.

Here’stwo-answers-multiple-choice another example. I can see from exam statistics where students get it down to two answers and can’t pick the right one; this is very typical for nursing exams. That tells me that I need to be more explicit in helping them choose between the two. There’s always something in one that makes it better than the other, and they’re just overlooking it. So we do practice questions that are specifically close in two answers.

Sometimes they say, “I just didn’t know the content,” which suggests that they didn’t prepare enough and I outline the way high achieving students study.

Before the exam, I also provide a study template. It just lists the course objectives and tells how many exam questions will be related to each objective. It shows the importance of sections. When there is a lot of material, it’s only fair for students to know how to prioritize their studying.

I like that way of tying it to the course learning objectives.

I also do frequent quizzing – which helps them gauge their learning. I don’t give them answers for items they miss, but just indicate the reading chapter it came from. That forces them to go back and find it.

Do you have any suggestions for your colleagues? Is anyone else doing it that you know of?

Several faculty colleagues have asked me for this assignment, and they have started to implement it. Others use a similar kind of method that they have created.

Do you tie this assignment in with a nursing competency?

I haven’t, but that would be a good idea. I never thought of that. It would fit under “professionalism and growth.”

Related posts: Helping Students Learn from Returned Tests   The Finals Lap: Tips and Ideas for Final Exam Review

SAMPLE EXAM WRAPPER

  1. Approximately how much time did you spend preparing for this exam?
  2. What percentage of your test-preparation time was spent in each of these activities?
Activity Percentage of Time
Reading textbook section(s) for the first time
Rereading textbook section(s)
Reviewing homework-quiz question/concepts
Reviewing in class practice questions
Solving case study questions from textbook
Reviewing your own notes
Reviewing additional materials/websites posted in class weekly folders
Other: (please specify)

3. Now that you have looked over your graded exam, estimate the percentage of points you lost due to each of the following (make sure the percentage add up to 100):

Reason for lost exam points Percentage
Did not know/remember the content on the exam
Did not understand the question
Did not read the question/item carefully
Missed key words in the question
Did not read all distractor /potential answers carefully
Had difficulty choosing between 2 answers
Read/inferred more into the question than what was stated
Careless mistake (selected the wrong response accidentally)
Changed the answer
Experienced test anxiety/ inability to focus
Other: (please specify)

4. Based on your responses to the questions above, name at least three things you plan to do differently in preparing for the next exam. For instance, will you just spend more time studying,  change a specific study habit or try a new one (if so, name it), solve more case studies, practice more questions, or something else?

5. What can I do to help support your learning and your preparation for the next exam?