Most teachers already spend time regularly reviewing course content. What’s different with these approaches is that they get students doing the reviewing and they do so with activities that model evidence-based exam preparation strategies.
Wow! This article promotes habits consistent with four evidence-based learning science strategies, i.e., distributed learning, retrieval practice, interleaving, and elaboration. Great suggestions! Thanks. Tom VH at UConn
[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ost teachers already spend time regularly reviewing course content. What’s different with these approaches is that they get students doing the reviewing and they do so with activities that model evidence-based exam preparation strategies.
Use test questions—students pay attention to them.
Display a question at the beginning of the session. “Here’s a test question I’ve asked in the past about the material we covered when we were last together.” Encourage students to test themselves. Let them talk to each other. Have them look in their notes to see if they have material there that helps them answer the question. Unanswered questions keep students engaged and attentive longer than those that are answered directly, especially if several possible answers are proposed.
Have students create possible test questions at the end of the session. As the session winds down, ask students to take a look at their notes. “This material is fair game for the exam. What might be a test question on this material? How about jotting down some ideas?” Then have several students share their ideas. Identify those you think could be good exam questions. Then use one of their suggested questions on the test. That pretty much guarantees they’ll take this activity seriously. It’s also a great way to get students reviewing their notes and it gives you feedback as to what they think is important.
Regularly (as in at least once a session) ask questions about material covered previously.
Resolutely refuse to answer the question. That’s exactly students want you to do.
Give them a hint. “We talked about this when we were talking about X?” “Check your notes for October 20. You might find the answer there.”
Be patient. It takes time to retrieve what you’ve just learned and just barely understand.
Still no response? Tell them, that’s the question you’ll start with tomorrow and if they don’t have an answer then, they’ll next see that question on the exam.
Have students review previously presented content.
These short reviews can take place at the beginning of class, in middle of it, or at the end.
“Let’s all look at our notes from March 3. You’ve got two minutes to underline the three things in your notes that you’re going to need to review for the exam.” Ask several students what they’ve underlined and why. This activity makes most students who don’t have notes for the day nervous and uncomfortable which should be enough to prompt them to get them from a classmate.
“Take three minutes to review your notes from November 1. Do you have anything in your notes that doesn’t make sense to you now?” If someone offers an example, encourage other students to respond. “Help Shandra out. What do the rest of you have in your notes about this?” Conclude by giving them another minute to write more in their notes if they need to.
At the beginning or end of the class session, give students the chance to review notes from a designated day with someone sitting nearby. Encourage them to trade notes and then talk about what they do and don’t have that’s the same. What do they both consider the most important material in that set of notes?
Encourage an online review of notes from a designated day. Post the date. Offer a few bonus points to the student who is the first to post his/her notes from that day. Encourage others to add material, raise questions, provide examples, and reference relevant text material. Post a “notes review over” and then offer a few bonus points to the first student who posts an elaborated set of notes, using material that has been posted.
Use the text in class
If the text offers a good definition, description, graphic, example, sample problem, study question, or something else, tell students you have it highlighted in your text. Ask if they’ve highlighted it in theirs. Then inquire about reasons why it might be highlighted. Using the book this way encourages at least some students to bring their books to class.
Identify a key concept discussed several days ago or in a previous module. Start with what’s in their notes. Then ask about text material on the concept. Where’s it located in the text? What’s the relationship between what’s in the text and what was presented? Does the text add new information? Does it provide a different kind of explanation? Does it offer more examples?
Give a quiz on a chapter or two. Let students use their textbooks but limit the amount of time they have to complete the quiz. Hint: be sure to allow less time than is needed if they were to look up every answer. This helps students become familiarized with the text and begins to show them the kind of material in the text that they need to learn for the exams. It also points out the value of having read the chapter before you come to class.