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Post-Exam Review Activity

Assignments of Note

Post-Exam Review Activity

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Briefly described: Students correct missed questions on their exams and reflect on the reasons why the questions were missed. They examine their study strategies and exam preparation behaviors and then propose what they should do differently to improve the outcome on the next exam.

Problems the assignment addresses:

  • Students rarely try to address and learn from the mistakes they make on exams, which means they continue to miss out on important course concepts.
  • Students frequently fail to accept responsibility for their performance on exams. The questions were tricky; the content was unexpected; the problems weren’t like those done in class; or the teacher is out to get them.
  • Many students use ineffective study strategies (procrastination, highlighting, memorization, cramming) without knowing there are more effective alternatives.

 Learning skills the assignment promotes:

  • Students confront, correct, and analyze their mistakes.
  • Students are introduced to a range of study strategies.
  • Students develop a plan for improvement.
  • The assignment develops metacognition—knowledge and regulation of learning.

Details and logistics: The post-exam review assignment has three parts: 1) students provide the correct answers for questions missed, identifying where they found the correct answer. They explain why their incorrect choice is not correct. From a list of possible explanations, they identify the reason they missed the question. 2) From a list of 16 study tools, students identify the ones they used and assess how useful those strategies were. 3) Students respond to two open-ended questions: whether their grade accurately reflects what they knew for the exam, and what they propose to do to improve their learning before the next exam.

Students complete this exam review activity after each of the three main exams in the course with the assignment allowing more flexibility after the second and third exams.

Grading: The assignment is a course requirement and each post-exam review is worth up to 10 points.

Evidence of the assignment’s effectiveness: This assignment is one of several used in the course, all of which were assessed via several different empirical methods fully described in Dang, et al. (2018). “Our observations are promising and suggest that curricular activities designed to promote metacognition do indeed help students improve their self-evaluation skills and may preferentially help lower-performing students.” (p. 8)

Resources included in the article: Appendices in Dang, et. al. (2018), accessible through electronic links, include a variety of materials relevant to this assignment.

Citations: Andaya, G., Hrabak, V., Reyes, S., Diaz, R. and McDonald, K. (2017). Examining the effectiveness of a post-exam review activity to promote self-regulation in introductory biology students. Journal of College Science Teaching, 46 (4), 84-92. [Note: this article contains the complete description of the post-exam review assignment and initial explorations of its effectiveness.]

Dang, N., Chiang, J., Brown, H., and McDonald, K. (2018). Curricular activities that promote cognitive skills impact lower-performing students in an introductory biology course. Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education, 19 (1), 1-9. [Note: this article describes the empirical analysis of the post-exam review assignment and other course activities related to developing student’s metacognitive skills.]

Get all five innovative assignments that are part of the Assignments of Note, Fall 2018 collection. Download now »


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