Saturday, November 03, 2007

What will be on the final?

What will be on the final?

Dear Students,

If I keep trying to get you to discuss a certain question in class and online, it might be because I think it's important. If it's a question about my own area of expertise, I probably think it's important. If it's an issue that I think you are letting popular knowledge get in the way of reality (like the ebil Catholics ran the world from the time of Constantine to Luther's reformation), or that the Emperor kept the Pope in his pocket for the same period (despite considerable time spent on the Eastern Roman Empire, Barbarians, etc.), I might think it's important. If I keep saying, "but what about ...?" and "I think you might need to think again about issues of time and geographical location, among many other factors that are right there in your textbook and that you are ignoring ...", I might think it's important.

If I think it's important, there's a good chance it will be on the final. kthxbai.


sky said...

One strategy that has worked well in my classes, for class and test preparation without the hassle of quizzes: I put students in random groups (by counting, not picking, so that it is truly at random), then let them come up with questions that they think are the important ones for the assigned reading. This takes about ten to fifteen minutes, maybe longer. Then each group asks the others their questions. Yes, there is repetition, that cannot hurt, but there is also always a lot of discussion taking place on what questions are important. I also encourage them to come up with a few "obscure" or hard to answer questions, and I am amazed how much they go into detail for that! One of my classes this semester consisted of sleeping pills, they made even me yawn. That strategy has worked well with them, AND they actively discuss matters and prepare themselves for tests. It saves me the time to prepare tedious quizzes and then grade them, but it also makes the students see the subject more from my side. They are actively teaching themselves. AND the questions what to study for the test have become more or less obsolete. Study your own questions, is my answer. It worked with this bunch of former sleeping pills, but then every class is different.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

That sounds like a fantastic idea! As it is, the students have the opportunity to ask their own questions online, and I always start our class discussions with their questions and comments. But I really like this, because one of the sections really does do the reading, but sometimes misses the points I'm trying to make, while the other class is entirely, as you call them, sleeping pills.

Belle said...

I've abandoned tests etc for increased student input. However, they seem to lose the point and lots of things I consider important.

I do reading quizzes, which can make or break them. They haven't figured that out yet. Next term, in the survey, I'm changing the format yet again. It's all rather frustrating, isn't it?