by Anna Harkey, Anthropology
Abstract concepts can present a real challenge, and for most — and especially for the high percentage of freshmen who take the class each semester — the whole concept of a “theoretical perspective” is entirely foreign. They soon learn the names of different schools of theory, names of scholars associated with each, and details of case studies demonstrating what each looks like in practice. But as exams loomed closer last spring, Q&A time with my sections revealed that many were still confused.
by Anna Harkey, Anthropology
by Stacy Jackson, Energy & Resources Group
Nearly everyone has attended review sessions that provided a big boost in preparation and sessions that were a huge waste of time. All of us hope to deliver the “big boost” session, but how [do you] provide effective preparation without teaching to the test, especially in the common situation of having seen the exam in advance?
by Emily Hamilton, History
I was not altogether prepared, though, for the general attitude of the students as we began to approach the midterm exam. Suddenly, the same students who displayed sophisticated analysis in section expressed intimidation by the sheer quantity of information they were responsible for. The discrete chunks of material that posed no problem to the students were overwhelming in aggregate…The students began feeling powerless in their own comprehension.
by Seemay Chou, Molecular and Cell Biology
I found that the problem was not rooted in lack of comprehension but an imprecision in their scientific language, owing to their lack of experience in the field. They felt that they knew the answers but could not express what they were trying to say…They needed to think and speak in the same language as scientists.
by Hillary Gravendyk, English
I was … impressed to find myself in a room full of well-trained environmental studies, engineering, and biochemistry majors who were fearless (it seemed to me) in the face of those mysteries of math and science that had so baffled me as a college student. But I quickly realized that there was one thing about which these poised young scientists were utterly perplexed, even terrified: poetry.
by Jennifer McGuire, Integrative Biology
Despite my efforts, the students continued to struggle with the exam material. It seemed to me that, despite my making the study material available to them, most of the students would not take advantage of it or study in a timely manner unless they had some graded incentive. The next semester when I taught the course, I decided to try to help my students achieve better test results by getting them to study for the exams earlier. To do this, I changed the way in which I quizzed the students.
by Robert Held, Bioengineering
My goals were to gauge the students’ comprehension of the material, provide an assessment of the professor’s effectiveness for the class as a whole, and help everyone understand the concepts more thoroughly. I adopted a three-tier solution to the issue of uneven experience. Brief quizzes, multimedia presentations, and interactive study sessions were employed.
by Wendy Sinek, Political Science
I have my students play “Political Challenge,” an interactive game that I designed…During the course of the game, teams debate possible approaches to a question, and then explain the material in their own words in order to earn points. Harder questions are not only worth more points, they also require more active participation, such as staging a mini role-play or debate.
Examples of how GSIs have helped students prepare for exams.
An example of using the bSpace Forums tool.