After the first test…

We are now 1/4 of the way into the term, and have had our first unit test of the semester. One of the things that I always try to do with my students is make them more reflective, not only of their communication skills, but also of their study habits. With this in mind, I often ask my students to share with me whether they believe they were effective with the first test.

Keep in mind the key factor: effective. I don’t ask students if they scored 100%, but have them focus on whether they regard their performance as effective. I may alternately ask if they accomplished their goal for the unit. Regardless, the priority is THEIR definition of success.

After this, they are asked to explain why they believe they were successful, or why they may have missed the mark. Part of this is to ensure that students take ownership of their actions, but also because it allows me to determine if I need to recover a concept more fully.

There are enough semesters behind me at this point to help me say that the responses are pretty consistent. The students who believe they succeeded are likely to have

  • Read the textbook fully (reviewing each chapter in the unit)
  • Taken effective notes (often asking questions about the material AS they study)
  • Ask questions in class (to ensure that they “get it”)

Conversely, students who struggle with the material, those who do not see themselves as successful jump to a couple of alternate conclusions:

  • Didn’t study enough/right material
  • Avoided discussions in class or participating in discussions
  • Opted to not read the textbook or utilize the review questions

I want students to be effective in this course, not just by the grade they earn, but by actually feeling confident in the material they have been learning. Sometimes, that does require understanding and using terminology effectively. But it can also be that students need to simply know the process of asking for clarification or more information.

The next test is late this week. I am very hopeful that their effective reading will be reflected in the responses they give to extended response questions.

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