Study Guides in High School...

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by TrademarkTer, Aug 18, 2018.

  1. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Aug 21, 2018

    Back in the stone age, professors would sometimes have old tests in the library for reference. It was professors from a range of different disciplines. The closest to a study guide was a list of topics that would be found on the test which was basically class notes plus additional topics from the text book or the professor created "text book".
     
  2. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Aug 21, 2018

    What are your degrees in?

    Do you know how statistics work? Your personal experience does not speak to the majority.

    The California CTC, for example, gives a practice for most of its teaching certification exams. As do many testing agencies. I find it strange that people are mystified by this.
     
  3. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Aug 21, 2018

    Let's just say, for argument's sake, that 70% of all college professors gave practice exams (this is a HUGE overestimate, and I'm sure it is no where near this high). Wouldn't it be better to make sure we prepare the students for the 30% of professors who don't give practice exams for their experience? And then they be over-prepared for the other 70% when they give these practice exams in college.
     
  4. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    I think it depends on the subject matter being taught as not all classes require the same type of testing preparation. If it’s a PE or art or English class, probably or definitely not. If it’s a class on something very technical like C++ programming, physical chemistry, or thermodynamics, then a practice test is certainly warranted. I would venture to say it’s even necessary because students need to see how the professor formats their tests, how many questions they give on average, the style of problems to be asked, etc, even if the students are not tested on those things.

    To further demonstrate, I had an advanced organic chemistry class in college where the professor used this weird table (it’s difficult to describe) that he specifically made for his exams — it wasn’t included in the book or class notes. The professor would even say “familiarize yourself with this table because you will have extreme difficulty doing the mass spectroscopy/IR/NMR problem otherwise.” He did this because the majority of students couldn’t make head or tails of his chart when he started teaching as they were not acclimated to his tests. This goes to show knowing the format of the test matters.

    Again, there are practice tests for the SAT, Law School Admission Test, Medical School Admission Test, and many other thousands of exams. They are needed and students find them very useful.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
  5. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Aug 21, 2018

    I attended a very competitive high school and we received study guides for all of our mid year and final exams because it covered so much content. The study guides were very similar to the exam,, so it might not have been the best way to do it. I think study guides are fine as long as the kids do not know exactly what topics will be on the test. Some kids need help figuring out how study and a study guide is a good way to do it.

    I spent two hours making a fill in the blank study guide for my kids as a student teacher AND offered 10 extra credit points on their test if it was completed. I had three kids complete their study guide. :(
     
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  6. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Aug 21, 2018

    Totally agree. It’s not meant to let students know exactly what they are being tested on. It should give them a general idea so they can better prepare. It shouldn’t just be, “Look at your class notes and good luck studying.”
     
  7. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Aug 21, 2018

    No, no. no. You're missing the point. I'm not debating whether or not a college professor should give a practice exam. I am saying---given the reality that there is at least some percentage of college professors who do not give these out, students should be ready for that reality.
     
  8. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    I’m not saying they should not be prepared either way, but that still doesn’t mean we should do away with practice tests for the “30%” of professor’s that don’t use them. They’re still mightily useful.
     
  9. Mr.history

    Mr.history Cohort

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    Aug 22, 2018

    I taught AP US History for a few years. I still gave the students study guides but I'm not sure my idea of a study guide is what you guys are debating. Giving the students the exact questions off the test wasn't going to happen but giving the students a list of things to focus on helped them a lot.

    My tests also were not purely recall. Even if I told the students every topic on the test, the still had to have a deep understanding of the material to be able to get the questions correctly.
     
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  10. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Aug 23, 2018

    My main complaint is against the idea that providing a study guide (I don’t give these out) or practice assessment (I do give these out) does not help students, but makes them rely on a crutch. No, it just ensures that they don’t have to read over every bit of minutia learned throughout an entire course and are able to focus on the main things being tested.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2018
  11. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Aug 24, 2018


    Well, aren't you just a ray of sunshine!

    My degrees are all in science - different disciplines. Not going to share too much personal data here. So yeah, I do know how statistics work. I also know how English works. When you say students will get practice tests in college, you say it as though this is common and typical among all professors. I'd think that with all of the courses I've taken, at the different colleges I attended, I would have experienced such a thing if it was the norm. I was sharing my personal experience to show that it is NOT the norm.
     
  12. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    Aug 24, 2018

    Not a study guide giver.
    My texts all give an objective for each lesson as well as a chapter review. Those tools can guide a student to determine what the aims of the course might be. I'm sure there are people who have a different experience but my grad and undergrad work did not include study guides, nor tips for possible test questions. I made my own study guides and my own tests to help me prepare for exams. It worked well for me.
    Study guides from the teacher are more suited to upper elementary, in my opinion, to teach students how to isolate what is important. After that, students should have been trained to identify that themselves. Students asked me for study directions today. They want to know how much they need to study. The answer to that is all of it. I am not interested in making good testers as much as I am interested in cultivating high level thinkers and solid learning.
     
  13. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Aug 25, 2018

    There are many parts that I find agreeable with this post, but I disagree on others.

    Take my Calc 3 (Multivariable and Vector Calculus) class, for example. It is the now the most difficult class offered at my private school and I have a reputation for giving notoriously difficult tests. With that said, the best of the best are in that class (valedictorian, salutatorian, top 10%, etc.) and these are some of the best students I’ve taught at the high school level in all of my years teaching. Even in spite of their academic prowess, many of them are already stressing about the extreme rigor of my class, even though it’s only been the first week of class.

    Now, I’m still going to have weekly review sessions and provide practice assessments before each formal assessment because of the depth of the material being covered and the sheer number of formulae students are required to know (I make students keep an ever-growing book of formulae and they are required to add to it progressively throughout the course and to include examples for how each is applied in a variety of circumstances). I do this because I don’t allow formula sheets to be used on exams and I don’t permit open-note or open-book tests either. I even restrict calculator use on half of each test.

    But at the same time, I don’t just say, “Okay now, just study your notes” like some teachers do who think they are being helpful (they’re not), when it’s just them being lazy, IMO. Think of it this way: imagine I hand you an encyclopedia set and said, “Okay, you’ll be tested on this. Good luck.” Wouldn’t you be frustrated? Now, if instead I said you can expect to maybe be tested on how to calculate the volume of a paraboloid, how to compute line integrals over some region, how to draw level curves to compute triple integrals, how to use Stokes’ Theorem, to use the Jacobian, how to the find the volume of a parallelepiped using cross products in R^3, how to find moments and total masses to find the centroids for substances of uniform and non-uniform densities, etc., then you could focus your efforts much better. NOTE: This would not be in written form, but in the form of a practice test that gives certain kinds of problems that cover multiple definitions, postulates, and theorems learned. The problems on the actual test may include a handful of those things, but at least students aren’t blind sighted by what they encounter and can prepare in advance.

    My track record speaks for itself as my students do better than their peers who are taught by the other math teachers at my private school that refuse to give them practice assessments. And not just on exams administered by us teachers, but state and AP tests. There is a statistically significant difference between how well my math students perform and the students from other teachers, with the former coming out ahead, and that says something because we have immensely high test scores school wide to begin with.

    For instance, my students routinely have “math battles” with students from other math classes — I came up with the idea for when they review for tests and finals — and they are able to arrive at the solution to problems I and other teachers propose much more expeditiously, efficiently, and with greater formality. That shows my methods work and are, more importantly, effective.

    In conclusion, I give students a *general* idea of what they can expect to know because upper-tier math and sciences courses are an entirely different ball game than other subject matters. Math is the most rigorous and demanding of all intellectual pursuits and so I take that into account when I test my students and prepare them for said tests.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2018
  14. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Aug 25, 2018

    So I think the biggest challenge you'll face if you become a VP, as you mentioned you planned to do, is giving your teachers credit for the success of their students, and not just attributing it to what a wonderful VP you are.
     
  15. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Aug 25, 2018

    Why wouldn’t I give credit to the teachers if they did all the work? That would be dishonest and a slap in the face to those teachers, who are also my friends. I can’t claim credit for something I didn’t do. I would only highlight the school’s student successes to prospective families, but I would not attribute any of those to myself.
     
  16. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Aug 25, 2018

    You just wrote a long post, of which the main point was how awesome you are compared to your lazy colleagues.
     
  17. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    I am by no means awesome, but I sure as heck get the job done. Compared to my math colleagues, I put in a lot more work for my review sessions, practice assessments, and activity preparation and *that* is why I have better results, not because of my being more “awesome.” They do a great amount of work, too, but not nearly as much as I do, as I work with them and frequently have department meetings. When I hear a teacher say, “I don’t give practice tests or give any pointers,” to me, that translates to “I can’t be bothered to make one or do anything outside of the bare minimum.” Hence, laziness.
     
  18. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Aug 25, 2018

    LOL---your department meeting where Mr. J goes "I don't give pointers!"

    And just because someone doesn't give a practice test, it's awfully bold of you to assume they don't do anything outside the bare minimum. Thank the good Lord you won't be evaluating teachers on my side of the country any time soon!
     
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  19. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Well, when I observe the teacher or discuss their lesson plans and all I see is them instructing and wishing students luck on exams, what am I supposed to think? You tell me how wishing the students luck, doing little to no review or extension activities is *not* the minimum?
     
  20. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Aug 25, 2018

    You changed the goal post on me----first it was practice tests. Now you are talking review and activities. That said, I think a teacher can do a fabulous job teaching and checking for understanding along the way so that there is no need for extensive review and activities at the end of the unit. The "bare minimum" would be what my HS AP Calc teacher did----write book problems on the board for us to figure out in groups, and then go to the back of the room and focus on his role responsibilities as head football coach. Some of the best teachers I've ever had taught with just a chalkboard and nothing else---no technology, no handouts, no activities, but my interest was held by their enthusiasm for the subject and their crystal clear explanations, and I was able to perform well on their assessments
     

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