1/28/2011 2:47 PM
I assigned Stephen Covey’s ‘7 Habits of Effective People’ in an advanced business class (BADM 384). I gave the students a choice of either a midterm (which I would design) or a paper (theme: chosen by student). No one chose the ‘paper’. Hmmmm. Ok, so I developed a midterm. Lesson one came by leaving my office (where there are frequent interruptions) to carve out some priority time to think, plan and reflect (something suggested by the Covey text!! J ). During that time, I stumbled upon an idea: Design a variety of essay questions and allow the students to choose which one to answer in each of seven sections. I constructed the exam in a way that it would be far more effort (and benefit) than either the paper or a multiple choice approach. I expected some ‘protest’ about the amount of work necessary to accomplish the midterm. And so I was prepared to make a ‘counter-offer’ and let the students have an extra week.
Instead of a revolt or protest, I received an amazingly positive response from the class as a whole (and from several individuals). What did they appreciate? CHOICE!
1. Eliciting (helpful) personal information Often it is helpful to an individual and also good for class interaction if students share personal experiences. Some students are shy. Sharing a personal experience can be ‘threatening’. During oral interactions, I endeavor to make ‘sharing’ a voluntary thing (as relates to personal feelings, etc. However sharing ‘ideas’ is not so ‘voluntary’). In the above-reference mid-term, I gave students a variety of questions… some requiring personal application and sharing, others more ‘conceptual’ responses. See attached. I gave the exam out before our mid-class break (3 hour class). Afterwards, I observed that many of the students were choosing the more personal questions.
2. Learning ‘Definitions’ vs. Learning ‘Concepts’ The other observation I have noticed in this class (and too frequently), is that students (with some cues and promptings) can produce ‘definitions’ (in this case quoting that “SYNERGY” means that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. However, not one student could give me an everyday example of synergy, nor explain the concept (other than using a verbatim definition). Therefore I designed the exam to create (force) the opportunity for students to delve into the concept as well as the definition. I decided on the extra week. The exam is due Feb 9. I’ll let you know the results! It still comes down to choice. But my hunch is that students will put more into this kind of exam and also get more from it!
Assistant Professor (Business Administration)
p.s. I also allowed them to be ‘proactive’ and choose between a range of 7-10 questions, with a concomitant potential reward!
2 comment(s) so far...
By Paul Dowdy on
1/31/2011 10:48 AM
As a Covey Facilitator who was trained by the Covey Institute, I appreciate how you designed questions for each of the Seven Habits. Also, as a former teacher and principal in the K-12 system I like the terrific instructional techniques you are using with your students especially in the area of CHOICE...
By Libby K Moore on
1/31/2011 10:48 AM
i am so inspired reading this! This may change the way i do my mid term.
something i have tried this term is asking my students in one class to send a one sentence email reflection to me after each class. it has been wonderful to see what they have learned/not learned and i have learned a lot as well.
thanks for your blog post