Questions for Critical Thinking
Nicole shared her experience with mid-term and final exams in her large undergraduate courses. Exams for Nicole can assist students to stay on top of their readings, can provide the structure to help students to study and can be a way for instructors to see if students are “listening” and “learning”. She described using a comic followed by questions to provoke students’ critical thinking – what a good idea but, marking these open-ended questions is really time consuming. It’s also hard for the TA’s to mark these questions.
Short-Answer Questions for Displaying Knowledge
Margo asked us to think about the “ideal situation” and how the oral exam for doctoral students is used to assist the student to display their knowledge, deeper thinking and conceptions. From many years of experience Margo has learned to use short answer questions as an efficient way to have undergraduates explain their ideas and display their knowledge in an exam context. She also incorporates some multiple choice for recall but she has found that questions involving matching and “fill in the blanks” are not as helpful for assessing students’ understanding of complex ideas.
Writing the 1-minute paper
To get students to think, examine, reflect upon and display areas where they may be having difficulty, ask these 4 questions:
Tips Generated in the Discussion:
For best results, it’s wise to develop an overall course assessment strategy that includes a variety of ways for students to practice what they are learning, get feedback at regular intervals and demonstrate their learning.
How does the learning happen? How do we discriminate “levels of learning”?
What great questions! Our conversation turned to the larger question of learning and everyone agreed that “students must make the content their own”. Lectures are a big part of teaching and the pressure to cover content is high not to mention the “peer pressure” to use power point and this translates into a “talking head”. “I’m a tour guide during my lectures”. In order for students to learn they must write, draw, talk together and make sense of the materials. Increasingly we use pictures, video, overheads and even a tablet PC where one can draw and display the ideas. “My power points provide an outline that students can use to take notes”. So, we must be discerning in our use of technology in teaching.
Resources of Interest
Testing – Stanford Handbook for Instructors
Writing good multiple choice items (from tomorrow’s professor blog)