Tag Archive: High-Impact Practices

Nov 02

GALILEO database: Artstor

This article is the third part of a series by UNG Libraries covering some of the newest and most exciting additions to our GALILEO Database collections. A new post will appear on the last Monday of every month of Academic year 2015-2016. Please note: login required for off-campus access to some links


Pictorial Quilt; Harriet Powers (1837-1910); United States; 1895-98; Textiles: Cotton plain weave, pieced, appliqued, embroidered, and quilted; 175 x 266.7 cm (68 7/8 x 105 in.

Pictorial Quilt; Harriet Powers (1837-1910); United States; 1895-98; Textiles: Cotton plain weave, pieced, appliqued, embroidered, and quilted; 175 x 266.7 cm (68 7/8 x 105 in.)  This image was provided by Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. All rights reserved. (see footnote)

“One picture is worth ten thousand words.

~ Chinese proverb

Images are powerful communication tools and the UNG Libraries subscribe to a fabulous collection, Artstor Digital Library. Artstor Digital Library shares almost 2 million images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences from museums, photo archives, photographers, scholars, and artists for teaching and educational use.  Any UNG student, faculty, or staff member can immediately start searching and using images through the Libraries’ link to Artstor on campus. You can also opt to create an account to save and organize images into collections and write personal annotations. Faculty and staff may also request “instructor privileges” that allow additional folder rights and the ability to upload your personal images (Login, click My Profile, then click Instructor Privileges tab). The tools within Artstor allow you to easily export images directly into PowerPoint or use their offline presentation tool (OIV) to zoom in to see minute details of a work for presentations.

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Apples; Thomas Worthington Whittredge (1820-1910); United States; 1867; Oil on canvas; 38.73 x 30.8 cm (15 1/4 x 12 1/8 in.) This image was provided by Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. All rights reserved. (see footnote).

Looking for ideas on how to integrate images in your teaching? This collection is more than “fine art” to be used to teach Art History. Check out Artstor’s case studies and curriculum guides! You can find them at the Teaching Resources link under the Browse section in the Digital Library homepage. (If you’re visiting Artstor on your phone or tablet, you’ll find the case studies under Global Folders.) Artstor’s curriculum guides are broken down into topics or themes, each composed of approximately ten images that illustrate or support the subject. Artstor’s case studies describe the innovative ways subscribers in a variety of disciplines are using the Artstor Digital Library in their teaching, research, and scholarship.

Looking for images for your own publications? Select images in Artstor are part of the Images for Academic Publishing (IAP) program. Initiated by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2007 to help address the challenges of scholarly publishing in the digital age by providing free images for academic publications through an automated Web-based service, the Images for Academic Publishing (IAP) program makes available publication-quality images for use in scholarly publications free of charge. All IAP contributors are Artstor image contributors and you can use Artstor to search for IAP eligible images.

  1. Login to Artstor with your username and password
  2. Use the Keyword Search and add IAP to your search criteria.
  3. Click (the IAP icon) to download a high resolution file for publication. A new window will open explaining the process. If you are eligible for the program, click Proceed. In the next window, click Download.
  4. In the next window, review the IAP Terms and Conditions of Use. You may also print this window for reference with the print link at the end of the document. Check the box indicating that you have read and accept these terms before clicking Continue.
  5. Provide the information requested in the space provided. Click Download.
  6. Two windows will open. One warns this download will take some time. The other shows your computer’s directory, where you can choose a place to save this file and continue to download as usual.
CreatorMade by, Ma Yuan, Chinese, active ca. 1190-1225 Culture China Title Scholar Viewing a Waterfall; Guanpu tu Period Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279) Date late 12th-early 13th century Material Album leaf; ink and color on silk Measurements 9 7/8 x 10 1/4 in. (25.1 x 26 cm)

Scholar Viewing a Waterfall; Guanpu tu; Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279); late 12th-early 13th century; Album leaf; ink and color on silk This image was provided by The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All rights reserved. (see footnote)

 

Want to learn more about Artstor? Artstor offers a webinar series that cover both the general usage and Artstor tools as well as subject specific sessions such as “More than Just Art: Image of Psychology” and “The Do’s and Don’ts of Image Copyright and Image Use”. Also, their support center has a wealth of learning aids in a variety of formats for just in time learning.

 


 

*All images provided are available for uses permitted under the ARTstor Terms and Conditions of Use, such as teaching and study, as well as for scholarly publications, through the Images for Academic Publishing (IAP) initiative. Please review the IAP Terms and Conditions of Use.

Sep 28

GALILEO Database: ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times™

This article is the second part of a series by UNG Libraries covering some of the newest and most exciting additions to our GALILEO Database collections. A new post will appear on the last Monday of every month of Academic year 2015-2016. Please note: login required for off-campus access to some links.

CTLL Blog - Hist NYT - Image

The ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times™ database offers researchers full coverage of the New York Times from 1851 to the recent past*. This invaluable resource provides a record of over 160 years of significant historical events. It also gives students and researchers a glimpse into changing social perspectives and values over the decades.

Teaching with this Database

The ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times™(listed in GALILEO as: Historical New York Times (via ProQuest)) database is a fantastic resource for primary sources in history. In addition to articles by staff writers, this database includes documents like satirical cartoons, letters to the editor, classifieds, and advertisements. History classes could read feature articles about significant historical events, then look at related cartoons, editorials, and letters to the editor to examine the social response to the historical event.

Sociology classes might use ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times™ to compare current and historical attitudes toward groups of people. For example, this 1904 classified ad page features job applicants openly discussing their own religion, ethnicity, physical appearance, and disabilities. This could spark a class discussion about whether these attributes are a factor in modern-day employment.
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Political science classes might use this database to examine the evolution of current hot-button political topics. The immigration debate didn’t originate with the 2016 Presidential election, after all! Students can search for “immigration” or “immigrant” within an assigned decade, then compare and contrast the issues discussed in historical articles versus current articles.

In the field of journalism and media studies, students might analyze how newspaper layouts have changed over the course of time. The “Browse this issue” feature shows an entire original page at a glance, including advertisements and images, and allows navigation to other pages within the issue. This retains all the original context and allows users to experience the newspaper much as the original reader would have.

Searching and Navigating

Like many databases, ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times™ can search through articles’ full text by keyword and narrow by publication date. Search refinements allow users to search for terms specifically within articles’ title, author, dateline, section, and more. Users can also search for a term anywhere outside of the article full text, which is helpful for common terms that appear frequently in irrelevant articles.

proquestsearchProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times™ can also search according to document type. Since this database offers full coverage, search results cover far more than just feature stories. Users can search for specific item types like advertisements, birth notices, classified ads, real estate transactions, obituaries, fire losses, soldier lists, and many more.

Some item types, including advertisements and comics, lack descriptive labels that would allow users to search for specific topics. Instead of keywords, you can select “advertisement” as the document type, select a date range of interest, and leave the keyword search box empty. This will bring back all advertisements from the specified date range.

Users can browse entire issues and experience them in their original layout. If you’re already reading an item in this database, click “Browse this issue” at the top or at the right of your page. If you’re starting from the Advanced Search page, click “Publications” and navigate to your desired issue based on its publication date.

For more tips on searching within this database, see this guide from ProQuest.

Expanding Beyond ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times™

Many more newspapers, both current and historical, are available through the UNG Libraries. Explore more current and historical newspapers through GALILEO, including the current New York Times.

 

*Coverage ends three years prior to the current year. Right now, coverage ends on December 31, 2012. Coverage of 2013 will become available in 2016.

Apr 06

Tutoring Services: Outcomes and Experiences

In my seven years of tutoring STEM courses, I have witnessed every type of student imaginable – the smart, the go-getter, the “do enough to get by,” the last-minute, the “I just want answers,” and the downright lazy. The one thing these students have in common is that they all realize, sometimes a little too late, they need extra academic help, and that’s when the Tutoring Services (TS) staff members put on their superhero thinking cap(e)s, swoop in with their pens and pencils, and save them (well, most of them) from drowning in a sea of F’s, D’s, and WF’s. Realistically speaking, given the high tutor-to-student ratio, one can only imagine that there are academic casualties in this line of work. The casualties are usually those students who lack the determination to seek tutoring help, those who wait until the hours before an exam to request a lesson in weeks worth of material, and others who just simply choose not do the work. This landscape  of motivational challenges is the honest reality that my tutoring heroes and I have come — however uncomfortably — to accept.

For many of our students, even the “downright lazy” and the “I just want answers,” if they come in early enough to get help and we can identify into which of those groups they fall, we can usually help them improve their scores. Sometimes, this improvement reaches as high as a full letter grade.   How early ,then, should a student come in for help in order to fully benefit from the sessions? In the Spring semester of 2014, the Gainesville Campus (GC) tutoring staff collected first and second test grades from a number of GC math sections and cross-referenced them with the data obtained from the login computers in the tutoring labs. The results of the research showed many differences between the two groups across all math sections: Lab students and non-Lab students. Lab students are those who showed up for tutoring help, and non-Lab students are those did not. Let’s look at the results for the first and second Math1111 (College Algebra) test grades for the two groups (figure 1).

hyunh_image

Figure 1: Test 1 and Test 2 grades for Spring14. Sample size (N) = 244 for Test 1 and 214 for Test 2.

According to the results, the Lab students scored higher than the non-Lab students on both tests – an average of a 6.9-point difference on the first test and a 10.8-point difference on the second test. In addition, the Lab students had a 5.7-point improvement (76.2 to 81.9) between the first and second tests, while the non-Lab students scored only a 1.8-point improvement (69.3 to 71.1).  Obviously, one reasonable explanation for the grade improvements in both groups after the first test might include a realization on the students’ parts that they needed to study more for the second test.  The Lab students, however, improved their grades significantly more than the non-Lab students.

What could account for this major improvement in this group? One observation that I have made during my time working in the labs is that, once a student gets the courage to seek tutoring help and has a positive experience with it, s/he is more likely to return. My staff and I make a concerted effort at the beginning of each semester to explain to all new lab students the importance of staying on top of their math assignments and the vital importance of seeking help early. The sooner a student comes in and seeks tutoring help, the more likely s/he is going to improve his/her grade. Of course, we would like for students to come in as soon as the semester starts, but that is not a realistic expectation for our wide range of students. Based on the results of our small study, we should intervene as soon as the first tests are given and graded in order to obtain favorable grade improvement outcomes and decrease the D/W/F rate in Math1111. The findings call for an intervention program to be put in place to help our students, and future discussions regarding such a program need to take place between departments and administrators.

Along the spectrum of student types, the last-minute and the “I just want answers” are the students who contribute most to the D/W/F rates, and they are the most interesting. They often come in just hours before a scheduled test and expect undivided attention and one-on-one tutoring. They seem to want tutors to use magic USB cables that transfer information from tutor brains to theirs. Or, at the very least, they expect to quickly input the information for quicky output on a single test, rather than understanding that true, deep learning comes from the scaffolded and practical instruction in the classroom. My tutors are patient with these students, encouraging them to make more frequent and early visits to the labs for tutoring help for the next test. Some of the students seem to change their ways, but most do not show up for help until, one again, just hours before their tests. Tutoring sessions with these students are usually ineffective, and, for the student, quite frustrating.  My tutors understand that explaining the purposes and strategies of tutoring and of learning is a crucial component of the their interactions with all students; if the students can grasp how and why they’re learning the material, they may be more likely to seek assistance in their areas of struggle.

In addition to being tutors, TS staff members also serve as counselors and advisors. Over a period of weeks of obtaining tutoring help, many students often become more comfortable around specific tutors, and they begin to create preferences. Building a great rapport between students and tutors through sharing personal math experiences is fundamental in Lab-student retention. I believe that my tutoring staff is incredibly attentive to each student’s needs and learning style. The tutors do really care about how much the tutees actually get out of the tutoring sessions. As a tutor, it is an amazingly satisfying feeling when a student returns and tells you that s/he did well on a test because you had helped him/her to prepare. Moments like that are what make a tutoring job unbelievably fulfilling.

UNG Tutoring Resources and Information

 

Mar 25

Faculty + Librarians: Collaborating for Student Learning

Similar to writing a research paper, conducting research is a cyclical process.  Many times, however, the research process consists of myriad baby steps with stops and starts that may or may not feel like progress. Thankfully, a variety of people are more than willing to assist the student along the research path. These partners in research–faculty, librarians, writing tutors–provide instructional assistance to the student at key moments in the research process. Deliberate and purposeful collaboration between these various people may help the student with both their research goals and the development of their information literacy skills.

At the most basic level, faculty members and librarians share the same goals and values of encouraging students to discover and evaluate information and create new knowledge during the process. Both parties have an opportunity and desire to teach information literacy skills because it benefits the students. With these shared goals, it makes sense for faculty and librarians to spend more time intentionally collaborating on approaches and strategies to information literacy instruction. A wonderful literature review by Mounce (2010) offers an array of methods and examples.

Collaboration between faculty and librarian already occurs during almost every planned library instruction session at UNG. Typically, a faculty member schedules a session with a librarian, discusses the basics of the assignment and any expectations, and then the librarian stops by during one class session and teaches the students. The students’ exposure to this information is vital to their research process and gives them an opportunity to contemplate and develop some of their information literacy skills. Many times the librarian ends the session by encouraging the students to set up a research consultation for additional assistance. After the session, the librarian waits for the student to contact them, and the faculty member simply hopes they reach out to the librarian, which creates a gap between library instruction and research assistance.

A more collaborative approach for faculty and librarian to address this gap is to offer additional in-class guided research sessions that purposefully bring the librarian back into the students’ research process. This additional contact would eliminate the gap or lack of research assistance that may occur between the face-to-face library instruction session and the submission of the final paper. For example, in two courses, English 1101 and 1102, I partnered with the professor to arrange an initial library instruction session covering the broader information literacy concepts,returning for a second, and possibly third, session to hold in-class guided research sessions. The guided research sessions allowed me to talk individually or with groups about specific topics, keywords, search issues, and more but also ensured that the students continued to talk about their research process before submitting their paper.

Since these collaborations take a great deal of time and effort to plan, faculty should reach out to librarians early in the process so that everyone can discuss expectations and options. Early and frequent communication is key.   Ideally, communication should start at the beginning of the semester so that faculty and librarian may discuss the assignment, expected student outcomes or goals, length of instruction sessions, expectations for all session content, as well as the amount of time either party can realistically devote to the process. Continued communication throughout the process not only supports the collaboration but allows both faculty and librarian to remain aware of student progress and struggles.

Second, trust and rapport are extremely important, but they also represent the most difficult conditions to establish since they take time. Many collaborative experiences develop over a number of years, and these relationships can be difficult to sustain given workloads and schedules. Working with faculty repeatedly, nevertheless, helps build rapport and a certain level of trust. With trust comes the ability to discuss the course assignment and content in greater depth, as well as the expectations of the students.

Even with a greater level of trust and communication, it is still important to recognize the natural boundaries, or defined roles, between faculty and librarian. In this particular model, librarians are not embedding themselves permanently in the course, either physically or online. Also, faculty are the content experts and have a broader view of their students’ strengths and weaknesses in relation to the content and will be the ones grading the student work. Librarians are the information literacy skill experts and can help students’ develop and put into practice their developing information literacy skills. I find it extremely important to remind myself and the students of these roles.

Wonderful opportunities exist for faculty and librarians to collaborate and enrich the academic and research experiences of our students. With good communication and extra planning, faculty and librarians can create a richer experience for students that will help them develop the information literacy skills necessary for success in today’s information environment.

References

Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education | Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL). (n.d.). Retrieved March 3, 2015, from http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework

Mounce, M. (2010). Working Together: Academic Librarians and Faculty Collaborating to Improve Students’ Information Literacy Skills: A Literature Review 2000-2009. Reference Librarian, 51(4), 300–320. doi:10.1080/02763877.2010.501420

Feb 02

What it Means to be Connected

October was Connected Educator Month. Started by the U.S. Department of Education in 2012, CEM has gone global and in 2013 reached 14 million educators through twitter alone.

As a college writing teacher and dues-paying member of the National Council of Teaches of English, I was involved this October with CEM, specifically attending (live or remotely; via webcam or twitter) events connected to CEM and curating the conversations via twitter, blogs, Storify, or through other digital platforms.

As we head into the spring semester, I find myself reflecting on a webinar I attended held live in Norway. Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, an educational consultant based in Brazil, provided the keynote address titled “The Globally Connected Educator.” In her presentation, she argued that if the desired outcome is globally connected students, teachers need to be connected globally connected first. This connection happens when teachers communicate, collaborate, and connect with experts and peers from around the world.

We work at a university which prides itself on establishing global connections. We have an active Center for Global Engagement. We have a strong relationship with Liaocheng University in China, as well as the Summer Language Institute’s inclusion of Chinese and Korean languages.

But here at the beginning of a new semester, I encourage us to consider individually and collectively how we can remain connected to educators in generalm, as well as our disciplines — and even subdisciplines. Connecting and remaining connected to our field improves the quality of instruction we offer our students.

Tolisano pushes digital connections via contributing to twitter conversations and webinars. Yet, these connections do not have to be reserved for the technologically savvy.

We connect through attending local, regional, and national conferences, sitting in on sessions or meeting people in the hallways (that is where the “real” conference happens, I believe, and it is blogged about here).

We connect through browsing recent journals in our field, scanning the table of contents and remembering author names and what she, he, they wrote about.

We connect through bringing in guest-speakers, and by being aware of who the president is of our leading professional organization.

As Tolisano said, our students need a connected teacher.

This connection does not have to occur during the weekly #whatisschool twitter chat, though it certainly could.

But this connection needs to happen for the betterment of our own professional development, but more importantly, for the betterment of our students.

Additional Resources

Connected Educator Month: Get Involved

Powerful Learning Practice: Professional Learning for Connected Educators

 

Oct 13

Midpoint Course Evaluations

by Katherine Kipp, Interim CTLL Faculty Fellow – Oconee

So we have officially passed the midpoint of the semester. Hopefully, we finally ironed out all the wrinkles in our courses and have settled into a comfortable pattern that works for us and works for our students. This is the time in the semester that I like to reflect on how well things are actually working, for me, but more importantly, for my students. I think I know how they are doing and what teaching strategies are working for them, but I’ve learned over the years that I can’t base my assessment solely on my own perceptions.

In the spirit of self-reflection, I like to conduct mid-point course evaluations in each of my courses/sections. These are similar to the end of course evaluations students complete in Banner, but they can be more useful because they are immediately beneficial to the students. I’ve always found these midpoint evaluations to be helpful or, at the very least, innocuous.

My procedure is to announce to the class my intention of conducting the midpoint evaluation. I ask the students to pull out a piece of notebook paper and write down 2 questions and their responses to each: (1) what do I like about the course and want to keep? And (2) what do I dislike about the course and want to see changed. I ask them to think about their learning in the course: what have I done that has helped or not helped them learn, what are they doing that is helping or not helping them learn. I ask them to be as thorough as possible because I will be acting upon their responses. I stress that it is very important to list things they like because if I only hear from those who dislike it, their “like” might be removed from the course. I spend a few minutes explaining that I’m doing this exercise so that they can actually have some input into the course and their evaluations will matter for the rest of the semester. With the instructions clear, I ask them to write out as much as they can, and then I collect their responses anonymously. It only takes about 10 minutes of class time.

Once I have their responses it is time for data analysis and reflection. For my procedure, I make a simple table listing every characteristic of the course that was mentioned and tally up the likes and dislikes for that characteristic. Usually I find a few key items showing up on most students’ evaluations and also a list of items only mentioned by one or two students. I reflect on the opinion of the class as a whole, and on whether I agree with their assessment. Next I reflect on what changes I could make to the course to improve, based on their suggestions. One of the beauties of this evaluation method is that students often clue me in on hurdles, obstacles, and techniques that I never would have thought of on my own.

Finally, I report back to the class. I read off suggestions and announce the number of likes and dislikes. Then I talk about how I will change to accommodate their suggestions OR the fact that I won’t change and, critically, why I won’t change. The students often enjoy this class interchange, but most importantly, they see that they are partners in the learning process, that they can influence their learning environment, and that I value their input and am eager to help them succeed.

There are many ways to structure a mid-point evaluation. Some of the parameters to consider include:

–      Anonymous vs Signed: some instructors like keeping the evaluations anonymous with the thinking that students will be more forthcoming whereas others think the students are more responsible when they sign their evaluations

–      Free-form vs Structured Format: the example above was a free-form, “write about how the course is going for you” format. Another option is to use the formal structure of the end-of-course forms given in Banner or by some other format. If you have specific techniques or issues you need feedback about, it is good to add those to whichever form you use. It is always good to have at least one open-ended question regardless of your preferred format, so that your students will have a chance to give opinions that might have been missed by your form.

–      In-class or online delivery: Contrary to what we might believe about differences in delivery format, research suggests that there are no differences in students’ responses between these delivery formats (Crews & Curtis, 2011). Although the method of gathering the evaluations doesn’t matter, it is important to have the debriefing discussion about the outcomes in person, with the class.

There are many benefits to using a midpoint evaluation. Students overwhelmingly want to be heard from in course structure and content, but very few actually feel that their evaluations are acted upon or that their feedback makes a difference (Freeman & Dobbins, 2013). This evaluation convinces them that what they think IS heard and DOES make a difference. Students gain confidence in themselves and trust in you as their instructor and partner in learning. It is a great way to get feedback in a low-cost, formative way that you may not get from the end-of-the-semester summative evaluations. And research suggests it does improve teaching for the rest of the semester (Cohen, 1980; Murray, 2007).

You can get more detail about this technique from McKeachie (2013) or Whitford (2008). There are many online forms offered as well, from the University of Maryland you can get instructions and evaluation forms, and others from University of British Columbia , Indiana University, Bloomington, and The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. An especially helpful tutorial and sample forms are available here.

One final point – the most essential aspect of the mid-point evaluation is that you are willing to change something. It is not an effective technique to be used if you don’t plan to give-and-take with the students. It is also important that you don’t over-use the technique within a single course offering: students can suffer from survey-overload!

Good luck, and we are half-way there!

-Cohen, P.A. (1980). Effectiveness of student-rating feedback for improving college instruction: A meta-analysis of findings. Research in Higher Education, 13, 321-341.

-Crews, T.B. & Curtis, D.F. (2011). Online course evaluations: faculty perspective and strategies for improved response rates. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 36, 865-878.

-Freeman, R., & Dobbins, K. (2013). Are we serious about enhancing courses? Using the principles of assessment for learning to enhance course evaluation. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 38, 142-151.

-McKeachie, W.J. (2013). Teaching Tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers (14th ed.). Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath and Company.

-Murray, H.G. (2007). Low-inference teaching behaviors and college teaching effectiveness: Recent developments and controversies. In R.P. Perry & J.C. Smart (Eds.), The scholarship of teaching and learning in higher education: An evidence-based perspective (pp. 145-200). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

-Whitford, F.W. (2008). College Teaching Tips. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Sep 15

Using Exam Wrappers as a Learning Tool

By: Dede deLaughter

She sits in your office, clearly fighting back tears. Pointing to the grade on her test, she says, “I’ve never made anything below a B before.”

Sound familiar? How many of us have had similar conversations with our students? And when we probe a little further, asking, among other questions, “What will you do to prepare for the next test?”, how many times do we hear, “I just need to study harder!”? One wonders, what does “study” look like in the average student’s mind, and what does “harder” look like? What if doing more of what didn’t work in the first place yields the same results? As Albert Einstein famously said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

How can we turn such occasions into a genuine opportunity for our students to learn? In their book titled How Learning Works: 7 Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching*, Ambrose et al. provide compelling reasons to incorporate the use of exam wrappers into our curriculum. An exam wrapper is a form students fill out after receiving a graded test (or any other assessment), with the intent of guiding them through the self-correction process. The exam wrapper incorporates: reflecting on their preparation time and strategies; determining their areas of strengths and weaknesses; and identifying the types of errors they most commonly made. After students turn in their completed exam wrappers, the instructor reads through them for insight into how his/her students are studying. Then, a day or so before the next test, the professor returns the completed exam wrappers to the students in order to have a structured classroom discussion about how best to prepare for the upcoming test. This Purdue University Learning blog provides some good research on using exam wrappers as a meta-cognitive tool, and a quick Internet search of Exam Wrapper yields some good templates to adapt for your own courses. For example, this exam wrapper intentionally focuses on the main goals for using exam wrappers.

How might a guided classroom discussion go so that students can determine how best to prepare for the next test? The discussion might begin, not with a discussion of study strategies and techniques but, instead, with a conversation about their Mindset. In her pivotal work on a fixed versus growth mindset, Dr. Carol Dweck explains how our beliefs about our capacity to learn affects everything about our performance, from how we approach intellectually challenging material to how we deal with failure and criticism. Nigel Holmes has summarized Dweck’s findings in his Two Mindsets graphic. In short, students with a fixed mindset view every assignment, every assessment, every learning task as a referendum on their intelligence, which often results in minimal effort, giving up, blaming, and/or avoiding challenging subject matter. “Why would I risk being seen as deficient?” is their internal message. In contrast, students with a growth mindset relish any chance to grow their brain, viewing even failures as growth opportunities. Their internal message is “I can do this, I can learn, and my devoted effort is what results in mastery.”

Thankfully, Dweck’s research also conclusively shows that learners with a fixed mindset can develop a growth mindset when discussions about mindset are woven into the fabric of the academic environment. One discussion will not generally result in a mindset shift. Rather, the discussions and coaching need to be an ongoing, natural part of the learning environment. Once students are trained to recognize the voice of a fixed mindset and how to reframe their beliefs, their learning dramatically improves, often resulting in the deep learning we all desire for our students. Ken Bain’s book What the Best College Students Do* provides a thorough discussion of how a fixed mindset lends itself to surface or strategic learning, while a growth mindset lends itself to deep, lifelong learning.

Once students begin to embrace a growth mindset, they are then better able to determine what types of study strategies actually work for them, and they will be more inclined to experiment with different techniques in different courses. Students with a growth mindset are also better able to determine what types of study techniques are active learning strategies versus those that constitute passive, rote memorization. As we all know, memorization does not equal understanding. Let’s take flash cards as an example: once students recognize what deep learning looks like because they are willing to put forth the effort to achieve genuine learning, they are better able to offer suggestions to each other for turning the passive, almost mindless, activity of looking through a stack of index cards into active learning techniques, such as making games from their index cards.

Finally, to assist students in branching out and developing a broader repertoire of study strategies that engage their learning styles, both inside and outside the classroom, consider providing them a link to a short Multiple Intelligence assessment and then encouraging students with similar Multiple Intelligences (MI) to collaborate, using their exam wrapper and their MI results, along with the Practice tab, to devise ways to work from their areas of strength.

The more our students engage in learning about their learning, and the better we are at guiding them through this process, the more they will claim ownership of their own education. We can help restore a measure of sanity to our students’ learning by introducing them to exam wrappers and the benefits of doing an honest “post-mortem” on their previous academic efforts. (A self-guided “tour” through the Mindset and Multiple Intelligence self-assessments is available under the Grow Your Brain section on the UNG Learning Support website.)

*available to check out through CTLL

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