I spent the better part of last week getting ready for the fall semester, marking off items on my trusty checklist one by one. (If you want me to send you my checklist, please leave a comment on that post.)
One task on the checklist is to revise my “Guided Reading Questions.” The name’s not catchy, but it conveys the purpose: These questions help students understand what I want them to get out of their textbook readings. It’s easy to see why that might be valuable, but who has time to write a bunch of questions about the reading? Nobody, that’s who.
Luckily, textbook authors have already done the work for you! Remember those poor, ignored questions that appear after every section and at the end of each chapter? Most students will not voluntarily answer these, and with good reason. Often there are a heck of a lot of them, and instructors may not cover all of the material in each chapter. Few students are motivated to work through questions about material they don’t have to know.
My “Guided Reading Questions” simply serve as a suggested way to study, and as a bonus, they add another layer of use to the textbook that students have already purchased. Every 3 years, when a new textbook edition comes out, I decide which questions are appropriate for my class and revise my list. Students who can answer every one correctly without peeking at the answers should do very well on exams, even though those exact questions will not appear on any test.
I don’t require students to answer them, and they are not worth points; I just make them available to students who want them. And although I don’t have data about who uses them and who doesn’t, I have anecdotal evidence that they come in handy, especially for students who struggled early in the semester and then start studying “the right way” when they get serious about their grades.
If you want to see what my lists look like, here are links to the question sets I just revised for the material I’ll be covering on exam 1, exam 2, exam 3, and the comprehensive final exam (new end-of-semester material only). Note that I also throw in a few concept mapping problems for good measure. If you would like Word versions to modify for your own class and textbook, leave a comment here and I’ll send them to you. Happy teaching!