As we head into the final days of the semester here are some tips, tricks and activities to foster retention of material to prepare your students for the final and beyond.
- Student Videos – As an alternative to another written homework have your students create a video mini lecture on a topic or concept. Assign different topics to different students and put them together to make a reference for the class. Be sure to have them include a sample problem that they work completely. Their peers can grade the videos on correctness.
- Look Ahead Assignment – One of the worst things students can do at the end of the semester is leave all that knowledge behind thinking it has no application to their future endeavors. Instead, have students imagine how they can apply their new knowledge and skills to their futures—both in future classes and beyond. It may be about the course content, or it may be about how they learn or work with new information. As a variation, consider asking students to write to you a few months later with an update.
- Reflection Questions – Help cement learning by asking students to reflect on their new knowledge- both individually and in groups—and how their knowledge and skills have grown over the course of the semester. Where are they now versus where they started? What are the most important insights they have gained over the course of the semester? This activity helps them to synthesize large amounts of information and focus on the big concepts rather than on smaller, discrete pieces of information.
- Write a semester post-mortem – Give your class a mini review, identify the highlights: what you think went well and what you could have done better. Identify difficult topics and assignments as well as those that succeed.
- If you did not cover it, don’t assume they know it. Often when writing a final exam, it is tempting to pick interesting, multi-concept problems. Be sure that every problem assigned has a corresponding related problem covered in class or the homework. In general, err on the side of if you didn’t cover it, they don’t know it.