Earlier this year I wrote a series of posts on redesigning my course on economic development. As part of the redesign, I added ten in-class quizzes as a way to reinforce students’ learning of important concepts. From my perspective, the quizzes are simple — a maximum of four questions, many of which can be adequately answered with short phrase or sentence. For example:
Why do the rural poor tend to have more children than the urban rich?
However, students’ scores on the first four quizzes have been quite low. I started wondering if bad study habits were causing the terrible quiz performance. Not being able to read students’ minds or observe their behaviors outside of class, I decided to do something unusual: ask them. I created an anonymous online survey with Google Forms. Here are the questions:
When reading assigned texts, I . . .
- write notes about important ideas as I’m reading.
- highlight, underline, or otherwise mark important ideas as I’m reading.
- do not write notes or mark up text as I’m reading.
When in class, I . . .
- write notes on a laptop.
- write notes on paper by hand.
- do not write notes.
For quizzes, I usually prepare by (choose all that apply):
- re-reading assigned articles and book chapters.
- reviewing notes taken during class.
- reviewing notes taken when I read assigned texts the first time.
- doing nothing.
I’ll publish the survey results next week.
Links to the original series on redesigning this course: