SIDEBAR
»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
Knowing What the Students Know (And Don’t)
Mar 28th, 2018 by Dr Karma

How can I tell what my students know?

Melissa and I are at the PCA/ACA 2018 Conference in Indianapolis. We’re talking about activities we do with students, related to our forthcoming book on evaluating sources.

But today I’m pondering: how do evaluate my students in terms of what they’re learning/what they know?

An informal survey I did with my students this quarter revealed that 90% feel that they know how to find scholarly sources on the internet.

However, only 63% of those same students say they know how to tell scholarly sources from nonscholarly ones.

Ummm . . .

Our inability to know what we don’t know is prevalent in college and beyond. It’s difficult, of course, for educators to know how to do our jobs better when so many uncertainties abound.

In my classes, I do a whole day on finding sources. We talk about genre (in an attempt to stop the students from calling articles “journals” and essays “novels”); we talk about the limits of open sources, including Wikipedia; we talk about what peer review is and why it’s important. I show them the subject guides, how to figure out who their librarian is, and how to work the databases.

These skills are tested later, of course. I have them do a basic quiz (find me a book on this topic, find me a peer-reviewed article on this topic), but applied knowledge is required when they do their later research. In upper division classes, I ask my students, as part of getting ready for their term paper, to find a peer-reviewed article on their topic and to write up an evaluation. (Many students tell me it’s their first time reading an academic article in their field.)

Quite a few students have problems finding one, never mind doing the analytical work I’m asking for. They try to do the assignment on magazine articles, on news pieces, on book chapters, and frequently on book reviews.

And this is where I get stuck. When my student thinks a short review of a book on subject x is the same things as a peer-reviewed article on x, what’s gone wrong?

Did the student skip that day in class?

Was the student there but not paying attention?

Was the student just rushing/half-assing the assignment?

Did the student know better but was hoping I wouldn’t notice?

Did I explain something badly, even though most people found the right type of source?

Is there a question I should be asking that I’m not even thinking of here?

I’m tempted to put a little check box on all of my assignments.

How did this assignment go?

  • awesome
  • it could have gone better, but I rushed it
  • I never actually understood what you wanted because you were confusing
  • I never actually understood what you wanted because I didn’t pay attention
  • I never actually understood what you wanted because I don’t care

Because I do care.

Share
SIDEBAR
»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa