We’re down to three class periods before finals (possibly two, if the basketball team makes the state tournament). In both of my courses, we started the final review. While both reviews were pretty similar, it was interesting to contrast how my two classes approached it. In physics, students were quick to grab whiteboards to collaborate on and pull out old quizzes and other work to jog their memory. I also saw a lot of students jumping around in the assignment, looking for the problems and questions they found most challenging to use those as a starting point. In chemistry, we talked about strategies to prioritize what to work on, but most students took a very linear approach and only a few pulled out work from earlier in the term. I saw much more variation in how students approached working together. Two students in particular did a really nice job of bouncing ideas off each other and challenging the other one’s thinking, but other groups “worked together” by agreeing to divide up who would do what portions of the review. No one opted to use a whiteboard for brainstorming and collaborating; when I asked some students about it, they saw it as extra work since they would have to transfer their work onto their paper.
Contrasting these classes really reinforced for me how important it is to work with students in this chemistry course on how to be a student. In physics, I have some of the top students in the school and they come to me expecting that they need to understand the daily work to do well on assessments and knowing that having the right answer down is very different from understanding how to answer the question. Many of my chemistry students don’t see that connection between assessments and what happens day-to-day, so don’t value the daily work as much. I need to keep working on making the value of daily work explicit to my students. There are a few who’ve bought into the idea that what they do today influences how their test will go, and they tell me chemistry is one of their highest grades. My challenge for next tri is to get more students to that point.