Sunday, November 20, 2011

Exam strategies and meta-education

The humor site Cracked has a good exam study strategies article. When someone posted this piece on facebook, several faculty members mentioned that they often accumulate more materials than they read.

How many students learn how to learn? Would we have better exam outcomes if we taught students explicitly how to study?

I recall that research shows that such study strategy courses pay off in students doing well in their other courses, but still few students have the opportunity to take such meta-education courses: courses in how to study, learn, and benefit the most from coursework. Instead, students are left on their own to figure out by trial and error and possibly wasting the courses where they do less well because they aren't sure what to do. I know students find these types of courses to be tedious, or they feel like they ought to already know this material, so they act blase about learning the material. I remember feeling that way about Freshman Advisory class in high school, where they taught us how to study before our first exams as we rolled our eyes. The usual tips like don't study in front of the TV or in bed, but the tips stayed with me and every time that I tried to study in bed, I would remind myself that probably it would be a better idea to move to my desk. Although I wouldn't always.

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