Students Not Studying

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by jw12, Oct 13, 2013.

  1. jw12

    jw12 Rookie

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    Oct 13, 2013

    Hi All... I'm at my wits end already this school year. I teach 4 low-level, general Biology classes (10th grade), one CP level Biology class (also 10th grade), and one CP Physical Science Class (9th Grade). I'm in my second year of teaching.

    To make a long story short, my students are simply refusing to study. On test day, I have them write down how much time outside of class they spent studying for that test. The latest results: the average study time was less than 20 minutes. The average test grade, you ask? A whopping 56%.

    I talk to them about the importance of studying. I show them statistics on how much studying can improve their grade. I remind them daily to be sure to study!!

    Of the 4 low-level classes, I have a full-time special ed teacher in the room. She, like me, is simply out of ideas. There's no motivating these kids. And my CP kids are exactly the same. Calls and emails home have also had little to no effect.

    My department chair and department principal don't have any suggestions either. I hate to give up and just say, "If they don't care, then I won't either." But honestly, it's getting to that point.

    Any suggestions out there?? Thanks!
     
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  3. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Oct 13, 2013

    I'm going through the exact same thing. Down to asking sped teachers and admin!

    I decided that I am going to start giving homework every.single.night. I usually don't assign that much but they have to have some forced input else they won't do anything. And frankly, it is a bit of CYA for me. If they continue to do poorly and I've done everything under the sun and they don't do their part with the homework, then I simply cannot be to blame.

    Thankfully, it is just my on-level students that are doing this. I don't know how I would feel if all the students were slacking off.

    I hope you get some great suggestions because I'm in need too!
     
  4. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Oct 13, 2013

    Quizlet.com shows some good ways that they can study at home that are a bit more enjoyable. I don't know if there is a cost for the site or not.

    As far as motivation what are you using as far as "carrots and sticks" to help motivate them? With a class this apathetic to grades, you might want to find something that will make them care a bit more in the short run.

    Also, I'd start calling parents starting with your lowest grades. Call or e-mail as many as you reasonably have time for. Even with inner city students, I found a call home usually could get them to study more.
     
  5. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Oct 13, 2013

    Oops...I see how you put calls and e-mails home don't work much. Wow..tough group.
     
  6. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I'd start by assigning homework every night. If they have a test on chapter 1 on Friday, then come up with five "focus questions" for a section of the chapter that they have to write about each day, or make them write dictionary/glossary definitions of vocabulary words, or something. If they won't study independently, then give them homework assignments that will mimic what good students do when they study.
     
  7. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    Oct 13, 2013

    I second this. while I don't assign HW every night I do want a paper trail that reflects students' effort.Any questions from students/parents/admin about grades are easily answered with documentation showing little to no work outside of class. Doesn't solve the problem you are referring to but it prevents other ones.
     
  8. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Oct 13, 2013

    Do they have any reason why they should be aiming for a high grade? I'm sure they want one, but why should they really put aside friends and free time to do well in your class?

    Why should they care about biology? Have you addressed the roadblocks to teaching science? (i.e. "it's too hard", "I'll never use it", "it's boring")

    I spent an entire two weeks this year going over just those roadblocks, and showing them how learning science can change their lives and what real scientists look like. I also took on the roadblock that they might feel about looking too smart or nerdy. So far I think it's been amazingly helpful. The students respect the material they're learning and they seem to understand it's importance.

    I can't say it's always going to work because this is the first year I did it, and while it made me feel a bit behind, I think it was worth it.
     
  9. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    I'd go to homework every night. When I have a class that is obviously not putting in the time outside of school, I often assign flashcards AS homework. If we have time, we create them in class, otherwise its homework. Then, they have something immediately on hand to study from.

    I also give quizzes every day (5 questions) just to check on the material from last class and encourage daily studying instead of cramming. If they can see the immediate effect of not studying on the quizzes, maybe they'll study for the test.

    Call home with a general "they need to study more" might not help, but what if you called and requested that the student stay back on a specific day for a review session before the test? Then you can discuss study skills and go over material that they need to study?
     
  10. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Oct 13, 2013

    One other thing to try is something I have found works when I am unable to get students to study enough for a test. I give the test on Thursday and then I give a large homework sheet based on the information on the test for Thursday night homework. Those who get an "A" on the test don't have to do my assigned homework that night.

    Here is the tough part. You need to have the prep on Thursday to grade these tests before the end of the day. I had enough prep time on Thursdays when I used this technique. Within a couple weeks, I noticed a large improvement in test scores.
     
  11. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Oct 14, 2013

    What are you asking them to study specifically? Is it notes? Is it the book? Is it a study guide?

    Most kids have no idea how to study so they don't bother. I'm having the same issue this year with my kids and it isn't for a lack of interest. I've had to accept that it is my fault for not properly preparing them to study. I need to make sure I'm putting the tools into their hands and not just saying "hey, there's a quiz, study for it."
     
  12. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Oct 14, 2013

    I teach grade 1, but when I was in high school my teachers would assign the study guide as graded homework.
     
  13. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Oct 14, 2013

    I'm facing a similar situation!

    I agree--homework every night, and make it count for their grade. I show them how much homework counts for their grade and how easy it is to get a good homework grade, and my students have finally started doing it. :) I also grade study guides and have a review class session.

    I also give study guides and do lots of review in class, and make myself available to them. I realized that my students really do want to do well, but I just have to show them how easy it is to do well if they put in a little time.

    Also...my class doesn't require tons of studying before an exam. I always emphasize that if they're listening in class and doing the homework, they'll be ready for the exam.

    I do have students that aren't trying at all, and they're not doing well. I make them aware of their grade and what they can do to improve. If they choose not to, that's unfortunately on them. We can't hand hold too much.
     
  14. jw12

    jw12 Rookie

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    Oct 15, 2013

    Thanks for all of the suggestions. I'm going to try more homework and more unannounced quizzes. Our district is currently transitioning to a summative-only grading policy, so the students know that homework doesn't count towards their grade. Their logic is no grade = I'm not doing the homework.

    I'll do completion checks on the homework basically as a CYA policy so if questioned about a student's grade by admin or parents, I can show that they are not doing their assignments.

    Glad to know others are dealing with the same issue!
     
  15. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Oct 15, 2013

    It is getting worse each year.

    Today, as part of reteaching because my class bombed their last test, I handed out a vocab sheet to my students. They already had definitions in their notes, but I wanted them to write it on a singular sheet, all together. Just grasping at straws.

    Well, one student, who probably only had half the definitions anyhow, started complaining about having to write "so many words!" The sheet I gave them had the vocabulary terms, a box for the definition and the page number where they could find the information in the book. She actually whined and said "why can't you just type out the definitions for us and hand it all to us? You've got to make the copy with blanks anyhow."

    She was absolutely serious.
     
  16. fraudelong

    fraudelong Rookie

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    Oct 16, 2013

    I know in our profession we try new things, but that is insane. I understand not having homework dictate a grade, but at the same time the kids need that push and motivation. Our policy is 25% formative, 75% summative.

    If it helps, my study guides are actually not graded. I tell the kids, if I'm giving you what is basically the test with different words, and I'm taking the time to go over it in class, your part of the bargain is to complete it. They notice really quickly who failed the test correlates directly to who didn't do the study guide.

    I also have a colleague who offers a chance for students under a certain percentage to retake the test if they attend a minimum of two study sessions with her and they complete the retake before the next test. Then the students are responsible for relearning what they got wrong if they want to pass, but if they choose to fail she at least tried. It works for her.
     
  17. jw12

    jw12 Rookie

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    Oct 17, 2013

    You must teach in my building!! The level of apathy is astounding. My students complain that I cover material too fast, but they never bother to ask for help. I continually tell them that I available 3 periods a day (including my lunch!), plus before or after school. Number of students who have asked for help... ZERO. Yet they're still failing. I simply don't understand that psychology.
     
  18. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Oct 18, 2013

    In my class, when a student fails their previous test (69 or below), they are put on a "structured study program". They get a sheet that is a letter to parents that explains why their child has this extra responsibility and what the program entails. Then there is a table where students need to write the date, what study method they used, how many minutes they studies, and then get a parent's signature to verify that they did indeed study. The back of the sheet has detailed explanation of some popular study strategies (notecards, fold over, etc). They can also have a teacher sign for them if they study during tutoring/study hall.

    We have a vocabulary quiz every Friday, and I require SSP students to study four times a week. You might want to modify that if you go longer between tests/quizzes.

    Could students forge their parent's signature? Of course. I think I've already seen it. Is there any consequence for students NOT getting it signed? No. However, whenever someone stays "true" to the system and then subsequently does well on their next quiz, we make a big example out of them publicly in class to show others that studying really does work. And I keep all of the signed study sheets in a binder. If a parent/administrator comes and asks me how I'm helping a particular student be successful, I can show them the study sheets. If a student is CONSTANTLY on the program and NEVER gets the sheet signed, that's good evidence. If a student has their sheet signed and the parent says they've never seen it before, well, that's good evidence too! That type of situation doesn't turn out well for the student.

    This is the first year that we're trying something like this. So far, it works for the kids that do it. For the kids that don't, we have concrete evidence that we're going beyond doing something other than say, "oh, just study!"
     
  19. MrSSTeacher

    MrSSTeacher New Member

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    I have a few ideas for you.

    1. When they get a poor test grade, require a parent to sign it. Parents being mad at them may result in them studying harder to get a better grade.

    2. Have a study log. They write down what they studied, parent signs off saying they saw it happen. I don't like doing this, but I know teachers who have.


    That said, some students require more study time than others. I had a girl in my economics class who openly admitted she never studied, but her lowest grade was a 92.
     
  20. MathGuy31

    MathGuy31 Rookie

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    Nov 4, 2013

    I would recommend giving them a study guide that maybe has 40 questions. The is due the day of the test. Depending how long your test is (let's say 25 questions). Maybe make 25 out of the 40 questions the same questions that will be on the test. Or make them very similar.
     
  21. tarajc123

    tarajc123 Rookie

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    Nov 9, 2013

    I think that a lot of students in lower-level classes don't really have good study skills, so teaching them these skills should be a part of the course material. Some of my students have a unit test coming up soon, so we spent some time preparing study materials as a class in a small-group collaborative setting, and discussing how to use them as a whole class. I suppose I will see how effective this was once they have completed their tests!
     
  22. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    There are a lot of students in upper level classes that don't know how to study. They never really had to. They remember what they read and hear so test time is not a problem. When they get to college or get to the point where the material is above their natural ability level they fall.

    One thing many people don't realize is how the brain works when approaching material that is new and especially material that they need to study. The brain is a master at telling you you understand information when you hear or read a bit you recognize. Your brain tells you you know the material. There is a big difference between recognizing and knowing material. Many things students are taught to do to "study" actually hit the recognition and fail to reach the knowing. Reading over your note triggers recognition. So, at the first bit of recognition you tend to tune out. Studying to know usually requires you producing all you know and comparing it to your notes. That is a lot of work. Also, learning how to know what is important for tests is something students need to learn how to do.
     
  23. Luv2TeachInTX

    Luv2TeachInTX Comrade

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    Have you tried sending home study guides? Do you have any positive supports in place for completing homework or getting good grades (like Class Dojo?). Do you have any time during class to pair students up and have them quiz each other on their flash cards? Can you do a quick review the morning of the test? Just a few ideas.
     
  24. jw12

    jw12 Rookie

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    Nov 10, 2013

    Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes. And that's what is so frustrating. I give them a study guide 2-3 days before the test (which basically IS the test), and then I go over the answers in class. Yet the average on our last test was 60%. I have them make flashcards in class, and then find them in the trash can. I make a practice test available to them online. I had one student turn in his test BEFORE I WAS FINISHED HANDING THEM OUT!! When I questioned him, he stated that he was going to fail and didn't care.

    I know that other teachers in my building are having similar problems with this graduating class. I don't know what happened to these kids, but I'm afraid of what will happen to them once they leave high school and enter society.
     
  25. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Rote memorization and working toward perfection in early grades has been removed. While there is more to learning than rote memorization, learning to memorize develops the brain so that it can memorize things quicker. The change in writing that moved from starting with simple, accurate sentences to trying to foster creativity. We eliminated the basic building blocks of academic learning for the sake of creativity and conceptual learning. Everything that developed the brain for automaticity has been removed from early education.

    As the complexity of the material increases, these kids still have brains that function like a 2nd grader when it comes time to learning.
     
  26. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Nov 10, 2013

    Same here. Started a few years ago. Additionally, students must be allowed to retake the summative assessments...even months after the original, even a few times. I saw a huge decline in studying and give-a-darn. :(
     
  27. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    On the flip side, my district is moving towards making tests nearly WORTHLESS, which also leads the students to not care/study. This school year, tests are only worth 20%. TWENTY PERCENT. Classwork assignments (which have usually just been reinforcements of that day's material) are now worth 35%.

    Students have very quickly realized that they can blow off tests and just show up to do their classwork and still pass.... which makes it really sad that I still have so many Es. :p
     
  28. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Nov 11, 2013

    Well this is a first... I completely disagree with every single word a2z has said here. I'd argue that all we have done is teach them rote memorization of disconnected facts to the point where they have no idea how to study. They don't know how to identify what they know and what they don't.

    I'd also argue that if we had really gotten rid of memorization we'd be much better off since the phone in their pocket can memorize infinitely more than our kids ever could. Of course, they'd need creativity to know how to use it in such a way.
     
  29. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I expected someone would overgeneralize what I said and take it as eliminating all other aspects of conceptual learning and critical thinking.

    Kids have not developed the capacity to memorize information and memorize it quickly. They haven't learned to quickly file information away and be able to recall it later. The only way to develop those skills is to require these skills are part of education. These skills have been removed from education and seen as evil.

    We can't over-rely on technology to search information that can be learned by students. In order to critically think about topics you need a vast amount of knowledge about a subject and it must be readily available to you without having to go search it out.

    If you look at the students that critically think well and come up with fabulous ideas, they all have one thing in common. They have memorized lots of information in the process of learning concepts and ideas.
     
  30. Historyteaching

    Historyteaching Cohort

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    Nov 14, 2013

    Not to be a "downer", but if they are not studying for tests..I don't see them doing homework-grades or no grades. The tests are for grades and they don't seem to care.

    Secondly, if calls/emails aren't working-you may not get the support in parental signatures either.

    To me, its like you are using homework as a punishment. No wonder students don't want to do homework if they equate it to a punishment-when homework should be used as a way to enhance their skills.

    This may not get much support, but after you pass back the tests, they must use the class period to fix all their mistakes:

    1. Find the right answer to the question
    2. Explain why the one they marked is wrong
    3. If they fix them all you will make the F's a D (the lowest possible) and maybe for those that have C or higher, add a few more points as a 'reward'.

    You are forcing them to learn the material again by looking for the answers and you are CYA because you are giving them another chance to 'fix' their grade-even though its their lack of studying that put them there. People will ALWAYS find a way to blame the teacher.
     
  31. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I agree with much of what you said, HistoryTeaching, but I do not agree with giving credit back for test corrections like that. The students have not learned the material with that activity any more than they learned it by taking notes/filling in worksheets/completing the study guide BEFORE the test. They have simply transcribed the material from their text onto their answer sheet.

    I rarely allow test corrections. But when I do I definitely do not tell students they will past just by filling in blanks. They can earn back a percentage of the missed points, but if you get a 30 on the test the first time around, you still won't pass by doing the corrections.
     
  32. Historyteaching

    Historyteaching Cohort

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    Nov 14, 2013

    I don't see it as filling in blanks.

    If you give them a m/c exam with 4-5 answer choices. They must read the text to determine which answer is right. Then explain WHY their answer is wrong. My exams are never FIB, the only time I come close to that is if its a vocabulary test.

    If your exam includes an Open/Free Response or short answer..then they have to look for the correct answer..cite page numbers etc.

    I've done this format with my AP Human Geography class and I've also required them to explain why they got the answer wrong, is it due to not studying at all/that part or is it because they truly don't understand the material.

    I didn't necessarily say they would pass with full points, getting the lowest D..which at my school is a 60 by no means allows the student the ability to pass with an A or a B. Besides, those that are really concerned about their grade will do the assignment-those that don't, won't. But at least you tried 'other options'

    Its okay to agree to disagree however :)
     
  33. thunderstorm

    thunderstorm New Member

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    Nov 27, 2013

    I think teacher should be interesting in teaching then students will respect him/her and will like to attend lessons.
     
  34. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Nov 27, 2013

    :lol: Yep, it's exactly that simple.
     

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