To provide students with a study guide or not?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Peregrin5, Jun 30, 2014.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Jun 30, 2014

    I'm reading a book that I find fascinating which has a basic premise that the more testing you do the better, as asking students to recall information solidifies it better in their memory, and they will be able to use that information to better apply critical thinking.

    I'm trying to introduce way more assessment into my teaching structure next year (not all of it formal assessment). One of my ideas is also to help students learn study skills to help them review for tests. However there is one practice that might conflict with them learning these study skills. I always provide a study guide before exams that I tell students has all of the basic information that I will be testing them on in the exam.

    I'm wondering, should I forgo giving them a study guide and reinforce just basic study skills or should I try to do both? My problem is that I think students will just do the study guides and not want to review using the skills I teach them.

    I could maybe tell them to complete the study guide at home only and then use our class review time for practicing our study skills. But do you think it would be better to just have them practice achieving using basic study skills without essentially giving them a cheat sheet?
     
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  3. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    What specific study skills do you want to teach them?

    Also, what does your study guide look like before and after completion? How closely does the guide match the testing questions?

    Study skills also goes in line with good note taking skills if the majority of your test is based on lecture and/or notes. Do you teach note taking and summarizing the concepts?
     
  4. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I want to teach them how to review by quizzing themselves.

    The study guide is generally the generic forms of the questions on the test. (meaning without the multiple choices, and worded differently) It's pretty well in line with the test as I make it directly from the test questions themselves. This might be a problem though I think unless the student requires the extra help.

    For note taking we take cornell notes, and students are required to summarize the notes they've taken afterwards and draw diagrams to match each note they make. They're given the main ideas they should take notes on (and these correspond to different powerpoint slides). What I want them to do this year, is to attempt to summarize without looking at the notes themselves immediately after taking the notes (so folding over the summary portion and trying to summarize the lecture from memory).

    Then for review, I want them to fold over the main ideas portion of the cornell notes, and have themselves test their recall of each of the main ideas without looking at the notes themselves. Then reviewing what they were weak on.

    I've also developed an in-binder student glossary that can be used as flash-cards (without actually having them make flashcards) that I want them to use to test themselves.
     
  5. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Jul 1, 2014

    For my grades 3-6 science students, I do give study guides. But I make them work for their study guide: the study guide is a list of questions that they have to fill out using their notes as a homework assignment. Then we check it over in class- it is THEIR responsibility to correct their study guide. I do provide an answer key for parents in grades 3 and 4 since those students tend to be more dependent on their parents for helping them study (compared to my 5th and 6th graders at least), but it doesn't go online until a few days before the assessment and only after we have gone over the study guide.

    I can either put that material on the test, leave off some of the material, or give students questions where they have to apply their knowledge and different skills to answer the questions (which the parents hate me for doing but it shows if their kid really gets it or not).

    It has worked out really well and I hope that it helps to show my students how they can go about making their own study guide when they get older. Focusing on vocabulary, main ideas, how to provide evidence, etc.
     
  6. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Cornell notes can be used as a study guide by themselves. The cueing section provides the information for which the student can generate questions from basic questions: what is the definition of the term ______ to what was the impact of _________ to what is the relationship between _______ and ________.

    What you might want to do is have an assignment where students use their Cornell notes to generate questions one night and after going over what the students have produced have the students use one of your study guides to answer the questions. They need to understand what types of questions can be asked. They need you to teach them how to look at information that is being provided. This can be noted in the Cornell Notes. The key to answering the questions will be to first answer without using their notes. Do that in pencil, then use pen to fill in what they are missing. In class go over the completed guide and have them fill in what they are missing in another color pen. While they are summarizing the notes each day they could be generating questions if you would like them to be able to learn this skill when the information is fresh.

    Students fail to learn because they don't see the connections to material. They don't know the importance of the information being provided (what should I gain from this).
     
  7. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I only provide study guides to my on- level students, and only then for a couple of tests. I do make a list of key concepts for them to review before each test. I don't like study guides because I feel it narrows the material they study and remember. As if the material not on the guide is not important.

    I'm more comfortable telling them to know what happens to chromosomes during each phase of mitosis than to specifically ask "during which phase do we see chromosomes line up along the midline?"
     
  8. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    How do the other students who don't get a study guide deal with not getting one? Do you provide any tools for students who are above level or below level?
     
  9. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    My students are ability grouped by course. Students choose to be in a regular class or an advanced class. Only my regular/on-level students get study guides. My advanced classes do not. I teach high school.
     
  10. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    adding...I consider my list of key topics to be a study guide. Just not in the traditional fill-in-the-blank sort of way. The traditional kind I give out sparingly.

    and students that are below level are placed in the regular on-level class.
     
  11. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jul 1, 2014

    I use study guides that list test format, a list of key terms, a list of key skills, and guiding questions that basically get them to the heart of the concepts. For my freshman I usually also include a list of what key notes, readings, and lessons to review. I also will include a list of possible essay questions (if there is an essay on the exam) so they can prepare. However, I do usually stop doing gradually to wean them off the crutch, if you will.

    For middle school I think that I would include more detailed and a larger quantity of guiding conceptual questions that are short answer based (not multiple choice, matching etc.) . I would not, however, provide them with the answers to the questions.

    I'm not familiar with cornell notes, but I think your techniques to have them summarize the lecture and then recall it without looking is an excellent habit. You may also turn them on to flashcards that would be a valuable resource as well.
     
  12. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    My study guides are harder than my tests - or at least more rigorous. They are set up like a traditional college history exam with a section of IDs (basically very long definitions), short answer questions and an essay question. The point is that they study the concepts in such a way that it won't matter what shows up on the test. By doing the hard work on the guide the test becomes a true check of whether they actually learned anything.

    I generally agree with the premise that testing regularly is a good idea. I wouldn't calling it testing though and simply checking for understanding. Taking 3 minutes a few times a week at the start of class to share our Cornell note questions is plenty for most of my kids to keep up on the content.

    Peregrin, how are you using your Cornell notes? Are students writing questions in the left column or just main ideas? If students aren't interacting by questioning/diagramming/etc. then Cornell notes aren't Cornell notes. I'm not trying to be accusatory - I just know from experience that most teachers don't use them correctly. There's a great essay from Walter Pauk who invented the format about the uselessness of them without the question writing component.
     
  13. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Thanks for the info!
     
  14. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    My study guides are also more rigorous than my test. Someone mentioned a mitosis example. If the question on the test was, where do the chromosomes line up during metaphase, my question on the study guide will be, draw and describe each of the phases of mitosis. But I still base the questions off of the test itself so I'm wondering if it is too guided.

    And I definitely HAVEN'T been using Cornell notes appropriately! :lol: That's why I'm trying to make all of these changes this year (having them use the main ideas to test themselves, summarizing without looking at the notes, and I already have them diagram). The only thing I really guide them on is I give them the main ideas to begin with (where the questions would normally go).

    I like A2Z's idea of using the main idea to generate questions on another sheet and maybe use that as a study guide. I think it would be hard to have them use it to answer the study guide I already give them. The amount of work would be double and it would probably be repetitive if they have to answer it on their own study guide and on my study guide, but I also get her point about them needing models of how to generate these questions.

    Those question cues she mentioned earlier sound great. I can ask them to generate however many questions using the cues: what is the definition of the term ______ or what is the relationship between _______ and ________.

    I will still probably give them the essay questions I will have on the test (because I like them to prepare beforehand with an outline of what they're going to write).

    Kevin: How do you share your Cornell note questions during those 3 minutes at the beginning of the week? Do they just share the questions? Or do they attempt to answer them? Do you do it as a class or in groups?
     
  15. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I hope you realize that my suggestion was for a teaching tool, not necessarily for something that requires double work all year long. You can even start with small chunks and teach the skill as the year goes on. You will have to keep a good eye on kids who will struggle to generate these ideas. Some kids don't have the ability to do so even in HS. It isn't always a lazy thing. Sometimes it is a failure to have developed the skill due to lack of thinking skills.
     
  16. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    That's true. I was thinking though if I give them those question cues like you mentioned though, that would guide them into creating the questions I would have asked on the study guide anyway.

    I could even create a single or double sheet where students could accumulate their cornell questions for each unit and use that as their study guide for the exams. If I could get them to share their questions with each other that might help them get questions they didn't think to ask.

    Asking them to write more questions per cornell note sheet than there are main ideas would likely eliminate the problem of all the questions being "Define this:".

    There may be a few questions that they miss, and maybe I could provide a few questions like an abridged study guide that might help guide them (with just like one or two examples or practice problems--which is where I see they might miss out since the cornell note questions generally don't lend themselves well to math practice).
     
  17. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    The difficult part for students will be understanding that you may find certain information more important that another teacher. That means applying the same strategy will not work until they can see and understand what is deemed important to another teacher. If they were to learn everything to mastery from memorizing, analyzing, and applying to other areas, it wouldn't be an issue, but that is a lot to ask of most HS students.
     
  18. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    We do it as a whole class. I randomly pick a student who asks one of their questions and randomly another who answers. I keep track of "points" on my seating chart as they do. The points never are graded but simply show me which kids have had questions/answers ready and which ones I should make sure to "randomly" pick more often.

    It's a simple thing but it definitely shows kids the value of regular bursts of studying. It's the best way to combat the forgetting curve but they don't know it. They think studying means reading over their notes once (maybe) the period before the quiz.
     
  19. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    These responses have me curious about something - how much time is there between giving a study guide and the actual test? How often do you test?

    I prefer many short tests over large unit tests. I like chunking the information and there is just too much variety in my curriculum to have tests every three weeks or so.

    If I were to hand out a study guide two days before a test students wouldn't have but half the information to complete it.
     
  20. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I usually give it out one or two days before a test, but our exam culminates our units into a full test, and I present very little new information after giving out the study guide.

    We also do a lot of little quizzes throughout the unit in addition to the exam, and I want to get better at doing daily formative assessments.
     

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