Monday, February 05, 2007

Sometimes I Wonder

I'm teaching several lower division courses this term. One of the things I do in these courses, typically, is give reading quizzes. They're open note quizzes usually involving specific words or plot points. If someone reads and takes reasonably good notes, they usually do well. The quizzes reward note-taking and reading without being too irritating or time-consuming. At least that's my hope.

I don't mean for the quizzes to be really difficult or tricky.

I start most classes by asking for questions on the reading. Say, Student A did the reading, but got really confused during this passage or that. If Student A asks, I'll answer the question fully; we'll look at the text, talk about what was confusing, and make sure Student A understands. Some days, people ask questions about exactly what's on the quiz. Good for them, I say. I don't change the quiz.

So, the other day, a student had a question about what happened to a character in the text we're reading for the class. We talked about it, read a paragraph in the translation. Knowing what was to come, I made sure we answered the question fully. I think it's important to, in effect, reward someone for asking a good question by giving an answer that will help them in whatever way, even on a mundane quiz.

So how in the dickens did someone miss that question on the quiz not fifteen minutes later? (Nope, not the person who asked the question. That student did fine.)

4 comments:

  1. I ask myself the same question when one day I tell students that WIKIPEDIA IS NOT A SCHOLARLY SOURCE and the next day Wikipedia shows up on an annotated bibliography.

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  2. Did you make sure your student had their MP3 player off?

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  3. Sometimes I'll do similar type quizzes at the end of the class--sort of "See how well you're grasping the material" sorts of quizzes. And while usually students do really well with this, and it helps to solidify key concepts, sometimes the answers I get are as if they were actually attending an entirely different--very stupid--class.

    Listening really is a skill, apparently.

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  4. I have this happen all the time.

    I used to give open notes logic quizzes. At the end of class, they'd get a pre-printed quiz with problems from the homework and thus problems that were the topic of class discussion. During class I wrote the answers on the board, often the questions were quiz questions.

    The interesting bit is that I had two sections. Their performance on the quizzes were often identical, even when one section would ask about quiz questions and the other would not. In other words, the little darlings couldn't copy the correct answer from the board, into their notes and back onto their quiz correctly.

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