Today’s Tuesday Teaching Tip is the first one directed at my colleagues instead of my students. Before my last class, I went to the literature to look for ways to improve student readiness for exams and decrease test anxiety. One article, in particular, was quite thought-provoking (Poorman, Mastorovich, & Gerwick, 2019). In class, we talked about the hierarchy of evidence and I shared that although the article is low on the pyramid I can still use it to inform my practice. Based on student feedback, I want to share three strategies that may be useful in other classes.
#1 Question Writing
We have spent a lot of time in class talking about the levels of Bloom’s taxonomy with a focus on the two levels that are tested on the NCLEX: Application and Analysis. Poorman et al. (2019) recommend getting students to write questions as a way of moving their thinking from a knowledge/understanding level to an application/analysis level. Question writing was already encouraged in the course in several ways, including the use of PeerWise. The challenge was that students were still primarily comfortable with the knowledge/understanding level of questioning. In the previous week, I showed them the difference by having them identify in Mentimeter the level of questions I had written. I also showed them a question at a knowledge/understanding level then compared it to the same question at an application level.
Below is a copy of the document we used for an in-class activity (with student content removed). I had students identify a question they thought would/should be on the exam in the first column. Then, I filled in the second column with what I thought of the question. As a group, we worked on modifying the question in the third column. Some students told me after that they found this activity very helpful.
I plan to use this strategy more often in class next term with the same group. Making time to have them think about what could be on the exam each week as well as critically thinking about how the question would look at an application or analysis level will hopefully improve their metacognitive ability (Poorman et al., 2019). My plan is to begin the activity in class and have them share their questions in PeerWise for marks.
#2 Just give me 15 minutes per day!
As we discussed success strategies, students shared that they did not have time to study for my class because of more important exams that were coming. They also told me that they were scared of the difficulty of my exam. Based on the information in Poorman et al. (2019) I asked them to commit to 15 minutes of studying per day. They said they would. After class, I created this study plan as a starting point for them. I thought that if they were so overwhelmed by all the demands on their time right now they may not know where to start studying. I have had a couple of thank-yous.
#3 Sneaky Bonus Question
Reviewing the Poorman et al. (2019) article reinforced my practice of allowing students to immediately review the marked exam. Although I have allowed for a review for a long time it inspired me to go one step further and ask students to identify what they can learn from the experience. Below is the bonus question on the exam:
For one bonus mark: Review your exam results and identify a learning goal for next term. I would like you to understand the types of mistakes you made on this exam so you can avoid making the same mistakes on the next exam (Poorman et al., 2019). Why do you think you got answers wrong? If you can understand why that can help you identify a learning goal, which may or may not be related to the content in the exam.
Poorman, S. G., Mastorovich, M. L., & Gerwick, M. (2019). Interventions for Test Anxiety: How Faculty Can Help. Teaching and Learning in Nursing, 14(3), 186–191. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.teln.2019.02.007