Monthly Archives: February 2015

Exam Wrappers = Great Reflection

One of the most important aspects of guiding students in the learning process is reflection.  However, many instructors either don’t know how to incorporate reflection or just don’t understand the benefits.  Grant it, some courses lend themselves more to reflection.  STEM courses normally do not.

Flipping my classes has given me more opportunities to talk to students one-on-one.  Our conversations have given me better insight into their learning processes.  In addition to not knowing how to take notes, students spend even less time reflecting and summarizing what they learned and how they learned what they learned (or didn’t learn).  In a recent publication, I came across the idea of Exam Wrappers.   I used information from both Purdue University and Carnegie Mellon University to design an exam wrapper that will help students “learn FROM the test”.  Here is what I use as my exam wrapper.

After a test is graded, I return the test along with an exam wrapper.  I print the exam wrapper on colored paper so that students are less likely to lose it.  Students are directed to complete the wrapper by the next class meeting.  I review the exam wrapper and give students up to 5 points on the test for completing it.  The more reflection, the greater the points.

I make copies of the exam wrappers and write the test score on each copy of the wrapper for future reference.  Many of my students really find it beneficial not only to guide them through the test, but help them know what to do to prepare for the next test.  Here a few comments from the first test exam wrappers.  The first comment is from a student repeating the course.

2015-02-18 09.10.04  2015-02-23 12.08.072015-02-18 09.10.14

The exam wrappers are also a huge benefit to me.  Students are given the opportunity to give suggestions to me.  Instead of waiting until the end of the semester for feedback, I hear it from the students during the semester and I can address any concerns now instead of later.  I am able to give the student feedback on the exam wrapper about their learning.  Exam wrappers are a win-win for both the student and me.  If you haven’t thought about student reflection, exam wrappers are a great tool to try.


The #Highered #Flipclass: Lessons Learned

I’ve been blogging about flipping at an open-enrollment college for about 2 years.  When I began flipping my general chemistry course 3 years ago, I made some huge assumptions about student learning.  Interestingly, I realized that I didn’t understand HOW students learned until I began flipping my course.

Every student learns differently and at different paces depending on the material.  Most students are not aware of how they learn, but yet think they know how to learn.  By flipping my class, I am now able to learn how each of my students learn and give them better support and direction to become more self-regulated learners.

Lessons Learned:

1.  ORGANIZED.  Be VERY organized in what students are to do at home.  Students need step-by-step instructions that are not only clear, but require the students to be active learners.

2.  REQUIRE note-taking.  Guide students in the note-taking process.

3.  FEEDBACK.  Collect the notes and provide comments on EVERY students’ notes.

4.  NOT “FLIPPED”.  I do not label my learning environment as “flipped”.  Tout the benefits and the past successes of students  who learned using this strategy.   I tell students that I have been teaching for 20 years and this “structure” has produced the best grades AND long term retention of material.

5.  GUIDE. I try to talk to every student during my face-to-face time.  My stronger students tend to want to monopolize my time, but I go out of my way to seek out my weaker students.  I encourage them to get help from me outside of class.  I want them to know that I want them to be successful.

6.  STUDENT CHOICE.  This is college… those students who don’t need my help and finish early, I tell them they can leave.  This is their time with me and they are paying for it.  If they don’t need help, they don’t need to stay in class.  This makes students feel like they are in control of their learning.  Most really appreciate this and end up staying for class.

7.  ACCEPTANCE.  Get students on board with the structure early on.  Tell them that you know this is new for them and that it will take some getting used to.  I make sure I tell students that my goal for the semester is for every student to earn an A.  I will do what I can to help them learn the material.

8.  CLARIFICATION.  Always start the class with an example problem or go over a “muddy point”.  It sets the tone for the class time and helps clear up any misconceptions.

I will never go back to lecture-only.  Some students say they do not “prefer” this method, but by the end of the semester, they realize how much they remember.  A student from the fall semester summed it up the best.  He told me that he could not believe how much he learned and that he hardly had to study for the final exam.  He did not have to cram because he knew the content.  In my years of lecture-only teaching, no student ever said this.