Type to search

Tag: exam debrief

postexam review assignment
group of students taking exam
Professor in front of class.
students taking a test

Editor's note: The following article is part of an ongoing resource collection called Assignments of Note, in which we showcase innovative assignments featured in scholarly articles.

The assignment

Andaya, G., Hrabak, V. D., Reyes, S. T., Diaz, R. E., & McDonald, K. K. (2017). Examining the effectiveness of a postexam review activity to promote self-regulation in introductory biology students. Journal of College Science Teaching, 46(4), 84–92.

Dang, N. V., Chiang, J. C., Brown, H. M., & McDonald, K. K. (2018). Curricular activities that promote cognitive skills impact lower-performing students in an introductory biology course. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education, 19(1), 1–9. http://doi.org/10.1128/jmbe.v19i1.1324 [open access]

Brief description

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

Learning skills the assignment promotes

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.


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.