How Can They Do Better? Our Students Know the Answer.

The exam 1 results are in, and many students are disappointed.

Yesterday I handed back exams and asked students to answer this question on a quarter-sheet of paper:

Are you satisfied with your exam score? (Yes or no?) If YES, to what specific strategy do you owe your success? If NO, what specifically do you wish you had done differently?

This question was worth NO POINTS, but students were wonderfully forthcoming. Despite the fact that the average score on the exam was a respectable 71%, most students were not satisfied. Nearly all said something insightful about why they did well or how they might have done better. I summarized their responses on the graphs below and displayed them to the class. Shown in blue or red text are their answers to what they didn’t or did do for exam preparation.

Responses from the students who were dissatisfied.

Responses from the students who were dissatisfied.

Responses from the few students who were satisfied.

Responses from the few students who were satisfied.

Exercises like this are valuable because they give students an opportunity for self-reflection and evaluation. They also allow students to learn from one another’s study habits — if you teach nonmajors biology, I am sure you already know that many students are motivated to learn but have no idea how to be successful. Seeing what successful students do, and gathering ideas for change from their less satisfied peers, can show students new directions.

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2 Responses to How Can They Do Better? Our Students Know the Answer.

  1. Ken Hobson says:

    Thanks Marielle. I think I’ll steal this and use it this week in my upper division lab. First exams handed back this week and it will be a good time for students to assess changes they can make.. although it may only reach a few.

  2. Great, let me know how it works!

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