The most important way to prevent cheating is to help students prepare well, and prepare well in advance, for upcoming exams and assignments. Discuss different strategies for studying for an exam. Talk about good strategies for answering the questions and about how students can best divide their time in an exam. For example, some students do badly in exams when they don’t plan out answers before they write them; when they spend too long on the first few questions; or when they second-guess themselves, changing their answers many times until they lose confidence. Address study and preparation several weeks before an exam, and alert students to the problems associated with procrastination, cramming, and sleep loss.
GSIs have come up with some excellent strategies to assist students in exam preparation. They notice the kinds of activities or the concepts students are having the most trouble with, and they address those creatively in class. They show students examples of the kinds of problems they will have to solve, or the kinds of questions they will have to address, on upcoming exams. (Often you can use items from exams used in previous years for in-class, collaborative practice.)
Several methods of exam preparation are described in some of the GSI Teaching Effectiveness Award Essays. Here are some examples from a variety of disciplines:
- History — Playing Teacher: Adding Predictive Power to Students’ Toolboxes, Emily Hamilton
- Integrative Biology — Instilling Effective Study Skills in Students: Start Early, Know Your Weaknesses, Jennifer McGuire
- Molecular & Cell Biology — Teaching Young Scientists to Speak the Way They Think, Seemay Chou
- Political Science — Conquering “40% of the Grade”: Interactive Strategies for Helping Students Prepare for Comprehensive Final Exams, Wendy Sinek
- Sociology — Encouraging Critical Thinking through Exam Preparation, Sarah MacDonald