A QUIZ TO SELF-MEASURE STUDY EFFICIENCY



I want to start this essay with three assertions that I have made previously on this blog.   They are not radical.

(1) – Many students leave high school without a good understanding of how to learn.  Some are fantastic but many rely too heavily on memorization and techniques that do not necessarily work for them.  They struggle in college and do not even know why.  They become frustrated.  If you can provide help you will improve them as students in your class but also throughout their college experience.  That is why I encourage my students to read Make It Stick.

(2) – Many students have trouble determining how well they are studying.  They spend time, but their studies can be rather random and disorganized.   They seem unable to gauge how well they are doing.  They often do not know they have weaknesses until they show up at a test and cannot answer basic questions.   The old saying that, “You don’t know what you don’t know” certainly seems to apply to some students as they prepare for a class.

(3) – Students are most interested in making learning improvements around test dates.   For a few days, a teacher really can grab their attention.  The frustration that can rise after a test provides fertile ground for suggested changes in study habits.  

I gave a test to my introductory students last week.  Some walked out happy while others didn’t.  I wanted to address those students who were not happy.   Within a few hours, I composed a little 8-question quiz to help them judge how well they were working in my class.  I reminded them of every possible technique that they could use to learn the material.   I wanted to show them what excellent preparation might look like so they could measure themselves against that standard.  I provided a grading scale.  

I want to repeat one of those sentences because I think it is so important.  I wonder how often students are provided with this type of guidance. 
“I wanted to show them what excellent preparation might look like so they could measure 
  themselves against that standard.”  

I am always looking to do things that I have never seen done before.   This one counts. 

I replicated this email and the quiz that I sent to my students below.  For better or worse, this is a very personal list of techniques – they are the ones that I use and recommend for my class.   If you want to do something like this, you will have to design your own quiz questions.   But that is not too hard.  Just answer one question—what would perfect preparation look like in your class?—and you will have an outline for your quiz.  Do notice the grading scale at the bottom of the list.
**

To:  My Introductory Accounting Students

Students often get to the end of the semester in this class and seem puzzled.   “I wanted to make an A but I wound up making a B and I’m not sure why I didn’t make the A.   I would have liked that.”   Or, “I wanted to make a B but I finished with a C and I really don’t like having that C.  I wish I had tried harder.”  

After the semester is over, those reflections are useless.   I would really like for you to consider where your work is heading right now.  I developed a quiz to help you score yourself as a measure of what grade you are trying to make in this class.   Take it.   Compute the grade.   See where you seem to be going and whether you like that (since you still have time to improve).  Be honest.   The truth is good for you.

(1) – How many classes have you missed so far this semester?
--If your answer is zero or one, then that is GREAT.   You gain more by being in class than in any other single experience.  There is no substitute for being here, being part of the discussion.
--If your answer is two, then that is GOOD.
--If your answer is more than two, then that needs IMPROVEMENT.

(2) – On the first day of the semester, I suggested that you spend at least one hour getting ready for each upcoming class.  I think for an introductory class that meets three times each week, that is a good goal.  How often do you spend at least one hour getting ready for an upcoming class?
--If your answer is virtually every class (90 percent of the classes), then that is GREAT.   Nothing beats spending the time to get ready for class.   Many students look for short cuts but they are fooling themselves.   Whether it is sports or class, you need to invest serious time in preparation.
--If your answer is most of the time (75 to 90 percent of the classes), then that is GOOD.
--If your answer is less than 75 percent of the time, then that needs IMPROVEMENT.

(3) – On the first day of the semester, I suggested that you spend 30 minutes reviewing each class and getting the knowledge organized.  My recommendation was that you do that within 24 hours after the class.  How often do you spend 30 minutes reviewing each class within 24 hours?
--If your answer is virtually every class (90 percent of the classes), then that is GREAT.   Knowledge seeps out of the brain very quickly if not reinforced and organized.  The book Make It Stickemphasizes that over and over.
--If your answer is most of the time (75 to 90 percent of the classes), then that is GOOD.
--If your answer is less than 75 percent of the time, then that needs IMPROVEMENT.

(4) – How many times have you come to my office to ask a question or get a clarification?  
--If your answer is three times or more, then that is GREAT.  Successful students recognize when they need help and go get it right then.  The material is hard.  You are not in this battle alone.
--If your answer is one or two times, then that is GOOD.
--If your answer is none, then that needs IMPROVEMENT.

(5) – I have sent out a number of email practice problems almost immediately after our class sessions, often with answers attached.   How frequently have you worked those questions within 48 hours of receiving them?
--If your answer is virtually every time (let’s say 90 percent), then that is GREAT.   This gives you a chance for a review immediately after class to make sure you picked up the key points in class. 
--If your answer is most of the time (75 to 90 percent), then that is GOOD.
--If your answer is less than 75 percent of the time, then that needs IMPROVEMENT.

(6) – You have received PowerPoint flash cards as an organized learning tool.   Each chapter has about 90 of those cards with a whole lot of learning activities set up in a logical sequence.   Which of the following best describes your use of the PowerPoint flash cards?
--If your answer is that you went through at least half of the cards for each chapter as the material was being covered, then that is GREAT.   I developed these cards specifically for this course and they should help you learn the material in an efficient manner.  They supplement our class coverage.
--If your answer is that you went through them in the days right before the second test as a review technique, then that is GOOD.
--If your answer is that you largely ignored the Power Point flash cards, then that needs IMPROVEMENT.

(7) – On virtually every page of the textbook, there is a Test Yourself question to help you make sure you comprehended what you had just read.   What percent of those Test Yourself questions did you work as you read the chapter?
--If your answer is that you did 2/3 or more of the Test Yourself questions as you read the chapter, then that is GREAT.   Again, as Make It Stick talks about, reading and then immediately practicing is a great learning technique.
--If your answer is that you did not pay much attention to them while reading but looked at 50 percent or more as a review for the second test, then that is GOOD.
--If your answer is that you did not pay much attention to the Test Yourself question, then that needs IMPROVEMENT.

(8) – I sent out answers to the multiple-choice problems and true-false questions at the end of each textbook chapter.   How much time did you spend answering these questions and checking your answers?
--If your answer is that you worked half or more of those multiple-choice and true-false questions by the time we finished the chapter or shortly thereafter, that is GREAT.   Again, this work gives you another way to check the knowledge you are learning as well as a practice technique.
--If your answer is that you worked half or more of those questions right before the second test, then that is GOOD.
--If you pretty much ignored the end of chapter problems and questions, then that needs IMPROVEMENT.

GRADING.  
Give yourself 2 points for every GREAT answer.
Give yourself 1 point for every GOOD answer.
Give yourself 0 points for every needs IMPROVEMENT answer.

Sum up the points.

If you scored 13 or more points, then I would assume that you are working to make an A.   You might not make it but you are doing the right things.  I am not at all unhappy with your preparation.

If you scored 7 to 12 points on this little quiz, then I would assume that you are working to make a B.   You are definitely working but you are not pushing yourself to an “Outstanding” level.  There is more you can and probably should do.

If you scored 0 to 6 points, you are probably praying that you will make a C.   There is nothing wrong with that but you should be honest with yourself about your goals.

Obviously, this is just guesswork on my part but it does give you a way to measure your effort and your ambition to do well in this course. 

If you want to do better on the third test, move your quiz grade up as quickly as possible.  Shoot to get 13 points.




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