In the last class of last year, I asked the students to write a postcard to the person they were 15 long weeks earlier, at the start of semester. I wanted to know the lessons graduating SC200 students would tell themselves if they had a chance to go back in time and start the class again. I asked them to advise themselves on how to learn better and how to get a better grade. At the start of the semester, I blogged about what they said about learning better, and then I discussed it in class.
Here’s what they said about how to get a higher grade. Most of the advice (90%) covered just two things: blogging and exam review sessions. I want to discuss this feedback in class today because we are coming up to the first exam review sessions, and Blog Period 2 deadline is the end of next week.
The advice, in order:
- Go to exam review sessions.
- Spend more time on blogs
- blog regularly
- blog more
- don’t leave blogging until the last minute
- start blogging earlier
- reach out to the TAs for advice on the blog entries
- apply blog feedback
- add more of your own analysis to the blog
- blog all three periods
- Prepare better for tests
- go over previous tests; keep answers
- each test builds on the last, so understand the early tests
- take all tests even though only two count
- ask TAs and Andrew about things you don’t understand
- Do better on the tests
- think hard and always be critical
- read questions thoroughly
- allow enough time during the test to think hard
- Take advantage of extra credits
As with the learning advice, it was shocking to me to get back from the students stuff I had been telling them all semester.
(Parenthetically, the students also offered me some advice:
1. Ban cell phones
2. Make first blog period mandatory.
I am working on #1. On #2: my experience with the mandatory plagiarism test this year tells me to never make anything else ‘mandatory’. What do you do with the ones that fail to do it?