By returning to the classroom there were a number of ideas I wanted to try. One of my ideas dealt with teaching students the importance of study guides while addressing late work.
How often do teachers find giving students assignments and on due date discovering a handful not turning them in. Why do students not turn in their work? I think there are a number of reasons: 1) They don't care, 2) They don't see the importance of the assignment in the process of their learning, 3) They see it as a waste of time and 4) They are to busy and simply forget about the due date.
To address couple of these, I started the fall semester with the following study guide policy.
"Students had the option to do the study guide or not."
If they wanted to complete the study guide and submit it - I would grade it and give them the grade in the gradebook. This way they benefited from their work by earning points. Plus they had a graded study guide they could use for the upcoming test. Students who choose not to turn in their study guide simply were excused from that assignment.
At first, I had only one student complete a study guide prior to the test. On that first test I had only couple of students qualify for a retake (score below a 70%). Oh bye the way ... for students who wish to retake the test they first had to complete a study guide and submit it to me. I would grade it and if they did well on the study guide I allowed them to retake the test. If the study guide was done poorly they would then need to meet with me in person where we would cover the study guide question by question. Then they could retake the test. My goal here was to show them how the study guide would help them in preparation for the test.
By the third test I had eleven students who qualified for a retake (most the whole semester) with again only one student doing the study guide prior to the test. All eleven completed the study guide and passed the retake. From this moment over half my class started to understand the importance of completing the study guide. With the remaining test at least half my students submitted a study guide before the test. .
I also witness another third work on the study at times without submitting it and what little was left at least glanced at it at times.
At no time during the semester did a student who completed a study guide fail to meet the standard of passing a test (70%). At the conclusion of the class I surveyed the students and almost to a student they spoke positive about the study guide approach. Comments included:
* I learned I had to complete the study guide to be prepared for the test.
* Even when I didn't have time to complete the whole study guide I could use it to review and determine areas I needed to spend time on in preparing for the test.
* It was nice not to have a lot of busy work in class. I could focus on what I needed to in my understanding of the concepts.
*There were many times I didn't submit the study guide but believe me I was doing them.
Having to complete the study guide before doing the retake also caused an interesting reaction. I even had one student who told me that she didn't have time to do the study guide therefore took the lower test score. But then for many of the students having to complete the study guide they saw a much higher score on the retake.
As for the teacher ... I didn't have to deal with late work. I believe this could apply to other assignments as well. I really don't assign a lot of homework in my college class. I try to focus on what is really important as part of the building block of the students learning.