One of the key ways to learn is by reading a text or manual.
But when one starts to teach a class (whether it be middle school, high school or intro college classes), most students assume that the teacher will tell them orally all the essential ideas, facts, methods, etc. needed to score well on the tests and quizzes.
This is not what teachers hope for, but it is the reality for most classes. There may be a few well motivated students who will spend adequate time working through the test study guides and sample tests.
I had a Cumberland student in my summer physics classes, who would show me her answers to the supplemental work that I put on the Web for my class.
So how can teachers get most students in their classes to make a significant effort to learn from the text in addition to studying class notes? I have concluded there is no simple way. But there is a way, requiring a considerable effort on the part of a teacher.
Here is my approach. Take each test and divide it in half. The first half will be done by two students (a partnered test). The second half will be done by the individual student.
To entice (not force) students to work through the text, I put out an elaborate set of study questions for each chapter on the Web. Then I tell the students at the start of the class that they can answer these study questions on loose leaf paper and put these materials in a folder that they can use in their partnered test. (No other aids permitted.)
To ensure that the student’s work is their own, I require that the folder material be hand printed or written neatly in cursive handwriting, no typed work allowed.
At the start of the individual test, I collect the folders from those students who have worked through my study questions for the chapters covered on the test. The materials in the folders will be graded on a scale of up to 20 points, which will be added to a student’s points.
In my classes, I give from three to four class tests. So a hard working student who does folders with all the study question answers for each test may gain from 60 to 80 points (out of a total of 1,000 points). This is clear reward (and incentive) for students who learn from the text book chapters.
The students who don’t want to turn in a folder, relying on course notes only, may realize that some of their classmates have an edge in gathering points. They may start doing a folder for the second or subsequent tests. Incidentally, I don’t allow the use of folders on any cumulative final exam.
In this approach, I spend about three times as much time grading test related material; first the partnered tests, second the folder material and lastly the individual test.
I don’t use machine graded tests. I hand grade my tests so I can print my corrections. The students receive back their tests to keep. The serious students will also spend more time on the course.
I compose the study questions for each chapter. These questions cover the main concepts of each chapter and include some thought questions, where understanding and analysis is required.
When I write the test items, I refer to the study questions and compose items that are somewhat related. In this way, a student who really understood the text chapters would be able to answer the test items more easily.
I invite any readers, whether student, teachers or learners to comment or critique my approach. There are likely other approaches that encourage most students to carefully read and learn from a textbook.
Or course, the text must be carefully selected so it is understandable to students with adequate reading skills. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org .
SKY EVENTS AHEAD: The moon is best seen in the a.m. hours (tonight it rises about 10:30 p.m.) and can be easily seen in the early daylight hours.
On Aug. 21, the moon will appear half full in the southern dawn sky. With the absence of the moon from the early evening hours, this week will be an ideal time to spot the Milky Way from a dark sky area.
Drive away from streetlights and brightly illuminated stores. Once in a dark area, let your eyes become dark adapted so the rods in your retina become more sensitive and your pupils dilate or expand to let in the most light.
This can take more than a few minutes. I go out to a local cemetery and just sit in my car seat listening to the radio for a while.
The Milky Way runs across the sky from the northeastern horizon through nearly the top of the sky and then down to the southern horizon. This glow is caused by the combined light of innumerable distant stars and gas clouds.
Bob Doyle invites any readers comments and questions. E-mail him at email@example.com . He is available as a speaker on his column topics.
One of the key ways to learn is by reading a text or manual.
Support Canal classrooms with tax-deductible gift
While your April 17 article (“Park Service opens Canal classrooms,” Page 1A) described this exciting program accurately, your readers may be wondering how they can help support this new educational opportunity for school children in Allegany County.
Ivan Hall story brings back memories of a unique man
I enjoyed Mike Sawyers’ Ivan Hall story. It was well written and brought back some wonderful memories of my Cumberland days and especially, an unique man.
It’s a secret
Could someone enlighten us about why not even the names of the two entities bidding on development of the Footer Dye Works building can be divulged?
A Times-News article about the bids included an explanation from a lawyer for the attorney general’s office about the need to keep the names and other information secret at this time. Despite that, the logic of not divulging at least a little more information escapes us.
What do we do about those who weren’t criminals after all?
Now that Maryland has become the 17th state to (finally) decriminalize possession of marijuana, one could say that the legislature and governor should be patted on the back for doing the right thing.
The first step
If all goes as planned, Frostburg State University will one day offer a doctorate in nursing, a physician’s assistant program and a new health sciences building on campus.
Translations differ, but the message is eternal
This letter is in response to a recent letter titled “One cannot compromise on God’s word” (April 13 Times-News). I had previously written a letter titled “Why are compromises so difficult to achieve” (April 7).
Closing the loopholes will help clear the regulatory waters
After a decade of uncertainty over Clean Water Act jurisdiction following Supreme Court challenges in 2001 and 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers announced a forthcoming administrative rule to close enforcement loopholes, restoring protections to 20 million acres of wetlands, more than half the nation’s streams, and drinking water for 117 million Americans.
Remember where your freedom comes from before criticizing
The deal at Fort Hood could have been avoided if it was caught in time.
When you think a GI is not acting right, have him or her checked out before you put them back on duty and give them a weapon. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious and dangerous problem if it is not taken care of right away.
Where to look
Drive anywhere in Maryland and it seems there is one highway construction project after another. While it is good to see our roads and bridges being upgraded, it can be nerve-wracking for anyone traveling a long distance.
Midterm elections give chance to return to American values
A movement has been started by veterans of our armed forces to get out the vote in 2014. That includes Coast Guard and Merchant Marine personnel for those not familiar with the history of both and their sacrifice. This is no small special interest group, but many millions of Americans who can have an enormous impact on the outcome of the November election if they all respond.
- More Opinion Headlines
- Support Canal classrooms with tax-deductible gift