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Helping Students See Correlation Between Effort and Performance

One of the student engagement techniques described in Elizabeth F. Barkley’s Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty has students predicting and reflecting on their exam preparation and performance. It’s a technique that helps students see the correlation between their efforts and their exam scores, as well as one that helps them assess the effectiveness of the study strategies they use.

Here’s how the activity works. After students have finished the exam, but before submitting it, they complete a short post-test analysis questionnaire—you may need to state that you won’t accept the exam unless the analysis sheet is attached. Barkley suggests having students respond to items such as:

After the exam has been graded and returned, students do a second analysis—you might want to not record the exam scores until students complete the second analysis, or you might want to offer some bonus points to those students who complete both analyses thoughtfully and carefully. Here are some of the suggested items for this second analysis:

An activity like this is most beneficial if it’s completed early in the course so that students can act on what they have learned. Although the advantages of such an activity may be perfectly obvious to the teacher, don’t assume that students will automatically see the value of this kind of analysis. Introduce the activity with a discussion of things students can do to improve their exam performance in this (and other) course(s). If students do the activity for more than one exam, you might want to add an item that has them track their performance across the exams, asking to what they attribute their improvement (or lack thereof).

Reference: Barkley, E. F. Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009, 336-339.

Excerpted from “Using Post-Test Analysis to Help Students See Correlation Between Effort and Performance.” The Teaching Professor, 23.10 (2009): 1.