This guest post is part of a series linked to the publication of G. Pleschova & A. Simon (eds.) Learning to teach in central Europe: Reflections from early career researchers. This post comes from Alistair Jones
We’ve all had the problem of students turning up to class without adequate preparation. To gain the full benefits of any classroom discussion or debate, student preparation is essential. Yet there are too many other distractions, resulting in unprepared students attending class. Natália Gachallová explains how she got the students to prepare for their classes, the ensuing benefits, and embeds the explanation in the existing literature.
for an introduction to Latin anatomical nomenclature, you might think, would be
essential. The obvious incentive is the required mark of 75% to pass the first
part of the course. Yet experience suggested this was not the case. Thus
Gachallová decided to innovate her teaching. She introduced fortnightly summative
online mini quizzes. These would reinforce prior learning as well as provide a
useful revision tool. There was also a reward component, where students gained
extra marks for the final exam based on the average score in the quizzes.
innovation can be time consuming, especially noting the length and volume of
classes that are undertaken. In this case, there is a cohort of over 130
students! Gachallová does not mention how much time was used in preparing these
quizzes, especially in comparison to what preparation was undertaken
previously. Follow-up questions were used in class to stimulate debate – an
example would be interesting to see.
online student survey was utilised to measure the effectiveness of this
approach, which produced remarkable findings. Around 85% of respondents claimed
to find the in-class quizzes beneficial. Conversely, some respondents
complained about the quizzes being too challenging, and voiced concerns over
spelling mistakes leading to marks being dropped.
benefits are visible in the grades of students. Both the average mark and the
overall pass rates improved. The exception is in the tail of the class, where
pass rates at the third attempt of sitting the final exam were almost
Gachallová takes into consideration the extra marks gained by students from the
online quizzes. Her findings showed most students did not need the extra marks
from the quizzes. Most of those who
passed the exam would have passed without the extra marks. A very small number
of students failed the exam despite gaining the extra marks from the online
quizzes. The reward component was meaningful for about 5% of all students.
key message from this chapter is simple. If students can engage with the
learning materials throughout the academic year, they are far more likely to
pass. Online quizzes appear to motivate the students to engage with the class
preparation. Formative assessments AND formative feedback can increase student
success in the summative assessments.
of you may consider a Latin Medical Terminology course to be rather niche. It
might be that online quizzes are not deemed appropriate for other subjects. Yet
that is to miss the bigger picture. There is a need to engage with the students;
to encourage them to take responsibility for their learning. One way is through
the use of technology. The fact a small incentive was added in relation to the
marks may be inconsequential – which is something for future exploration.
If students are not going to engage with classroom preparation, why hold the class? If students merely parrot what has been said in class, has any learning actually happened? Consider the six levels of knowledge in Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956): to have knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. If using technology and incentives to innovate our teaching can help our students to a deeper level of knowledge, then it is worth the experimentation.
can you please insert chapter link here?