Grades from last semester are only a distant memory for most of us, but, as a new semester stretches out before us, I find myself thinking about last semester’s classes. I am particularly interested in feedback on an idea I have had for several years.
It seems that whenever I sit down to grade my (cumulative) final exams, I am struck with the mistakes my students make on them. I always have a desire to pull them back into class, just one more time, to clear up the areas that they obviously didn’t completely understand. I would love to know if anyone has done that with their own classes, and if so, how it went. Of course, many would probably not be interested in coming to a lecture that is entirely voluntary, but it might be worth a try.
If getting students to come to a class that is not part of a course is difficult, I have mulled over some ideas that might work, instead. For example, I could put together a sheet of notes that could be e-mailed to the students, highlighting the areas the obviously were difficult for them as a group. Would they read a handout on the meaning of p-value or how to calculate a triple integral, when there was no immediate threat of being tested on it? I don’t know, but I would definitely feel better about my role in preparing them for future classes if I knew that I had done this. Indeed, the course management software that most of us use to some degree might be a way to transmit this information, allowing me, as the teacher, to have the final word, not just in grades, but also in the presentation of information.
I also have another idea that I may work to implement this semester. Since so many of my classes are prerequisites for other courses, I am thinking of getting a list from the departments we serve of important topics that students should pay particular attention to as they go through a course. For example, Statistics is used in several different majors, from sociology to psychology, each with its own focus and ways of applying the subject. In addition, it is used by some students to fulfill their core math requirement, so some of the students may not have any particular subject in mind as they learn the topics. I am hoping that my colleagues will provide me with a list of topics that are very important to their future classes, which I can distribute early in the course, so students can be sure to focus on those topics (among others) as they take the course.
Has anyone ever done things like these, and, if so, how did you do them, and how they work?