Study Guides, are they beneficial or not????

Discussion in 'General Education' started by montanadreaming, May 8, 2011.

  1. montanadreaming

    montanadreaming Rookie

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    May 8, 2011

    I teach upper elementary and just learned that next year we will be required to supply students with study guides. Questions and answers at the beginning of every unit. Then we will read and talk about the material in class. Then students have all the correct information to "study" for tests. I think I can see some benefit to this but I am still on the fence. The reasoning is that colleges do this and elementary/middle school age students need to have the material handed to them so they know what they will be tested on. Thoughts?????
     
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  3. jwteacher

    jwteacher Cohort

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    At my school, I am also required to do the same thing for every subject. I think it's a bunch of BS. When I have the kids take notes in class, that should be what they study for the test. I don't have any surprises come test day, but it's not enough (for parents and administration), apparently.

    Kids should be responsible for studying learning objectives piece by piece (as I hand out notes or have the kids fill in outlines over an extended time). I even have class meetings to discuss good study habits and how to manage time effectively.

    My school is doing these kids a disservice by having everything handed to them on a silver platter. That is not teaching them responsibility or preparing them for the real world.
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    May 8, 2011

    I kind of agree with this. I think it would be useful to give kids an outline of important topics so that they can direct their studying appropriately and effectively. I think it would also be useful to give kids a study guide with questions that the kids have to answer using their resources (book, notes, brain, peers, whatever). But giving questions and answers? That seems silly to me. It will teach kids to memorize the material rather than learn it so that they can apply it and expand upon it. It's all lower-level thinking stuff.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for memorization...when it comes to certain information and certain skills. But for the content of an entire course or subject? Forget it. What's the point of being in school if the only thing kids are going to do is memorize a list of questions and answers? They can do that at home.
     
  5. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    May 8, 2011

    It's a horrible way to teach children. Sadly, MANY schools are going this route. Even private schools.

    When they get to college or start working, these young adults will not know what to do with themselves. So many of my college friends almost failed many of their courses because they had no clue how to organize themselves and take notes.

    I'd REALLY love to know why administrators think this is a good idea. (Less parents complaining that way?)
     
  6. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    May 8, 2011

    My study guides have the following sections:

    1. Format
    2. Important Terms, Events, People, and Places
    3. Essential Questions/Focusing Questions (which should give them an idea as to what short answer questions could be)
     
  7. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    May 8, 2011

    I give students a study guide at the end of a unit to help them study for the test. My study guides are practice questions. I always tell students that if you can do the study guide you will be fine on the test. My test is often very similar to the study guide. There are no surprises on my tests.
     
  8. Lindager

    Lindager Companion

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    May 8, 2011

    Our school uses study guides, but only for the Sp. ed. students. It is given to them at the end of a unit to help them prepare for a test it has a few questions and answers, some vocab and a short outline (the questions and answers are similar but not the ones on the test). All other students are expected to take notes. A study guide is a good aid, but should not be the only study source.

    I never learned how to do good outlines, this is something everyone should learn in elementary school. If you hand them the answers how do they learn anything.
     
  9. husker_blitz

    husker_blitz Companion

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    May 8, 2011

    I really don't like the idea of study guides being mandatory by administration. I echo a lot of what has already been said. If teachers are providing study guides, what happens to notetaking if teachers are doing 90% of the work?

    I don't mind study guides in the least, in fact I use them for my students, I just don't like the fact they are mandated by a school.
     
  10. jwteacher

    jwteacher Cohort

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    Exactly. Most of my fourth graders realized they don't have to put any effort into note taking because they know they'll get a study guide with questions and answers on it at least a week in advance of the test.

    It makes me angry, but my administration's philosophy is that because students with special needs require a study guide, everyone should have it (so that parents of non-special needs students don't complain).
     
  11. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    May 8, 2011

    My study guides are not answeres its some terms to know with some broad questions. To get the answers they'd need their notes and/or readings to look them up.
     
  12. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let me see if I understand. You must provide a study guide consisting of questions and answers...and these are the same questions and answers on the test? If so...wow. Wow in a very bad way. :(
     
  13. husker_blitz

    husker_blitz Companion

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    Heck, basically eliminates the need for teaching, doesn't it? :eek:hmy:
     
  14. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I don't think a study guide is a bad idea, but if its just a sheet for them to memorize all of answers that isn't helpful at all. Maybe give them a list of topics they need to know or even questions to look up answers for. When I was in elementary I never studied once. I didn't understand what studying even was. I had a good memory and could usually remember what we did in class. Once I got into middle school and started taking advanced classes where I needed to study, I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do to study. I'd never had a study guide or made flashcards or reviewed notes or anything of the sort. It would have been helpful to learn these skills in elementary, but just handing them a sheet with the answers isn't going to teach study skills.
     
  15. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    May 9, 2011

    I let my kids know what to expect on every single test they take. They know exactly what topics will appear, and how much credit will be assigned to each.

    Look at all the threads here about the tests teachers have to take, and at all the comparison shopping done when it comes to study guides. And think of all the test prep that's done in class for state tests. How is that different from a study guide?

    I think the difference is that a study guide should enable the kids to know what to expect on the test. I don't think it should take the place of them studying. So I think it's a matter of what's on the study guide, as opposed to its existance.

    Guiding my kids on what to study helps them prepare for what they'll be tested on. It helps them prioritize.

    Studying for them is a different matter.
     
  16. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    May 9, 2011

    I agree with Alice. I am using a study guide now for my next Praxis, the Fundamental Subjects Content Knowledge.
     
  17. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    May 9, 2011

    I agree with Alice, also.

    But here is the rub with school in general. Teaching students (of all ability levels and strengths/weaknesses) to take notes is difficult. What is even MORE difficult is to temper what you say to make sure that the point you need them to identify aren't burried by irrelevant information or constant tangents that are interesting but not beneficial for overall knowledge of the topic.

    Teaching how to properly take notes takes much repetiation in all classes. This has gone by the wayside with the scope increase of the standards and the time spent on other things in the classroom.

    Study guides that give all the answers can help someone appear to be doing well and in the eyes of SOME can be the end all be all. No real learning but the end of unit test looks good.

    Highlighted study guides that give general topics to be covered ALSO need to be taught how to use. This isn't often done. Yes, we tell students they need to go back and find all the relevant information for the highlighed area, etc. But again, this is like summarizing - finding the important points. Teaching how to properly use study guides takes a lot of teaching. Knowing how to use your sources and what depth of knowledge is required is key. The latter is a very difficult one.

    There was a study done about studying and it showed that when students make a connection about a topic and it SEEMS easy to learn, they tend to not go in depth because they are tricked into thinking they know it because they recognize it. So, when they see the information when they are studying, they gloss over it, missing the underlying information.

    Study guides can be great tools if they are not the test/quiz replicated, but students need to be TAUGHT how to use them appropriately and this requires they had the initial skills to gather the information in the first place.

    Our teachers in the dinasaur age used to give us "study guides" but they wrote topics on the black board or taught us "the important phrases" they use to indicate that this information will be seen again (on the test). But even after teaching this there was always that student that would say after the test, "Oh, that is why Mrs. Smith said this would be on the test.". :dizzy: Yep. There are always some that hear the words but don't make the connection.

    My thoughts on this is that unless serious time by all teachers in EVERY classroom is spent teaching students to adequately take notes, read for meaning and note while reading, learn to identify what a teacher thinks is important (which will really depend on the teachers ability to indicate to students what is important), etc, study guides can be an aide depending on how they are done. I see a study guide as you have described as a consolidation of the key information the students should be learning or already have. If the tests/quizzes are fact based, you have a memorization guide. If they are concept based and the student must critically think using the facts given on the study guide you then have understanding based on using the "background knowledge" provided on the study guide.
     
  18. Sshintaku

    Sshintaku Comrade

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    May 9, 2011

    I give study guides, but it's only people and terms that will appear on the test. The questions are all application based instead of definition based, so theoretically, if they know what the word means, they will be able to use the skill (ie. Why might the author use personification in the following quote?)
     
  19. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    May 9, 2011

    I haven't been very good at this this year, but next year I will get better. I will have a smart board, so at the end of class, during my closure, I will open the same document, and have the KIDS list what the important objectives of the day were. If I don't think it was test worthy (not often, but sometimes that happens), we won't include it.

    That way, kids have no excuse for not knowing all the way through a unit what to expect. At the end of the unit, I will simply print the page for each student.

    I also like to include the format, and how many points.
     
  20. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    May 9, 2011

    To be clear, study guides are wonderful. Especially study guides you help students create. But giving test questions and answers, teaching the material, and then presenting those same test questions? That's absurd.
     
  21. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    May 10, 2011

    Given that over there you seem to set your own curriculum in each school it would mean that each department or even each teacher would have to produce a study guide. Perhaps one benefit of our National Curriculum is that you can buy a study guide for a little as $6 per subject that will cover 2 years work.

    I should add that in my school we expect the kids to buy their own study guides. We do fund them for poorer families. Sometimes the kids can recoup a little of the money by selling them to the younger kids when they leave school.
     

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