Lyons: Preparing Students for the First Exam (TOTW #3)

This is a post from the “Tip of the Week” series by Richard Lyons which is no longer available, although it is archived on Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine.  Below this is a link to the full original tip at Internet Archive.

An earlier tip emphasized the increasing need for professors to improve retention of students throughout the term, and provided guidelines for managing the first milepost, i.e. the first class meeting. Most veteran instructors would agree that the second significant — and perhaps even more impactful — milepost is the first examination. It is not uncommon for the first exam to trigger a withdrawal of 20-25% of students! Therefore it is critical to manage this milepost effectively. Following are some simple guidelines:

  1. Prepare the exam several weeks in advance. Before concluding each class meeting, check yourself to see that the test items from the material covered has been adequately addressed. If not, quiz students to see that most understand.
  2. Think about providing students a study guide for the exam, which needs to be no more than a simple listing of concepts that will be included on the exam. Most effective teachers believe students should perceive few, if any surprises on an exam – eliminating the “gotcha!” that many of us can remember from our student days. Study guides are especially valuable to working students, or others unable to attend all class meetings, and foster individual responsibility for success.

See the full post here.

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.
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