By Kasey Powers
A common conundrum when teaching is how much to give students to go on when it comes to instructions for studying for the exam. As an instructor we want them to learn everything that’s been covered, but it isn’t feasible to cover every concept, term, experiment on an exam, especially a multiple choice exam, which is what I use in my Introductory Psychology classes. Students have often asked for a study guide and want to know exactly what will be on the exam. However, providing an instructor created study guide can be too specific and adding “extras” that were covered in class but aren’t on the exam causes many student complaints. It’s easy to get caught between giving too much or too little. I took an idea from Dr. Dan McCloskey (Powers, Brooks, McCloskey, Sekerina, Cohen, 2013) that he uses in his research methods classes to create a crowd sourced study guide in my Introductory class.
I do this using the Blackboard Wiki feature, but using your campus’s Course Management System Wiki or Forum or even a Google Doc could work. If you ask students to log in to Google Docs you can track their revisions as you would on Blackboard. During class the week before we talk about the exam and what will be on it. I open up a new wiki and ask students for major topics that might be covered for each chapter. The students throw out experiments, names, terms, and ideas from the textbook and class discussions. I type in their responses to outline form. Then after the class I go in to the guide and add anything from the exam students may have missed.
For example a partial outline for Social Psychology might look like this:
The students are then tasked with filling in the information. They write that Zimbardo conducted the Stanford Prison Experiment that covered deindividuation.
A second student might add that the experiment was made up of college students who were assigned to be prisoners or cops.
As students fill in the outline they add pieces of information and edit one another’s work. This leaves the burden of studying on the students as they are the ones responsible for creating a detailed study guide and by removing any incorrect information. This solves the problem of providing too much or too little information as students created the outline. To ensure that the outline is complete I go through it and add in any keywords that are on the exam but that students may have missed. I do not remove keywords provided by the students that are not on the exam.
This is a quick and easy way to give a few class points, or even extra credit.
Dr. McCloskey will be speaking at Pedagogy Day., October 24, on different ways to utilize Blackboard in the Classroom. If you are in the New York City area you are welcome to join us! https://www.facebook.com/PedagogyDayCUNY
Powers, K., Brooks, P. J., McCloskey, D., Sekerina, I. A. & Cohen, F. (in press). Hybrid teaching of psychology. To appear in M. Hamada (Ed.) E-Learning: New Technology, Applications and Future Trends. NOVA Science Publishers.