June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Educational Research and Methods
12.955.1 - 12.955.10
Interpreting Student-Constructed Study Guides Abstract In this work we explore how ten Tennessee Tech chemical engineering students in a second- semester thermodynamics course prepare and utilize self-constructed study guides for use on class exams. Qualitative research methods were used owing to the information desired and the small number of participants. Results indicate that many strategies exist and “goodness” of study guides does not necessarily map onto successful exam performance. Also, students may need detailed training on how to develop a useful study guide. Finally, we have found that there may be a benefit to peer-sharing of study guides.
Course examinations are ubiquitous throughout highereducation, regardless of the subject area. When an instructor announces an exam, one question is sure to follow: “Can we use our book and/or notes on the exam?” [That this is asked, and not some default assumed, speaks to the various answers that students often receive to the question above.—this sentence is awkward]
One approach used across fields is to disallow students access to their notes during an exam, but allow some form of reduced or modified notes as a resource. When students are given the opportunity to prepare these notes (heretofore called a “study guide”), this constructivist approach may provide revealing insights on a number of related topics, such as what and how the student prepared this study guide, how they used the study guide, their feelings pre and post exam and so on.
In this work, we examined student-constructed study guides in a second semester undergraduate thermodynamics course taken by 10 chemical engineering students. The goal was to determine how the guides were prepared (re: strategies, etc.) and how they were used on the exams. One hope, at the conclusion of the study, is to provide (if possible) an inventory of best practices for study guide preparation.
Owing to a small class size and the local nature of this research, qualitative methodologies were used. Two semi-structured interviews were conducted with students individually over the course of the semester. The first interview took place after the first exam and the second interview took place after the third exam. Focus groups were conducted after the second exam. Fieldnotes were taken during the interviews. Interviews were tape recorded and transcribed verbatim and discussed with the students for accuracy. Categorizing strategies were used to code data. Categorizing strategies in qualitative research were done to fracture or split the data in order to rearrange it into categories that enhance the comparison of data within and between categories and to help in the development of theoretical concepts. In addition to interviews and focus groups, the students’ self-constructed study guides were analyzed. This research uncovered strategies students used in constructing their study guides. By understanding how students constructed their study guides, the course instructor could potentially help future students to enhance their academic performance through the construction of “better” study guides.
Visco, D., & Swaminathan, S., & Zagumny, L., & Anthony, H. (2007, June), Interpreting Student Constructed Study Guides Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/1818
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