Help with a Teaching Strategy

I’m still (relatively) new at the AP Stats game. When I was hired here in March of 2010 I was told that I needed to add AP Stats to my toolbox. I’ve loved the course and teaching it has really changed my point of view about teaching/learning. This year, I decided to try something new with this course. My enrollment exploded this year and I wanted to find a way to adjust to this. I had 12 students, then 12, then 19, and now I have 38 students in AP Stats. I wanted to find a way to get/give some feedback in low stress ways (low stress for me AND for them) and I went out to the local office store and bought some marble notebooks for my kids. I have been digging through my old files (assessments I’ve created and assessments from the publisher) and I have been making time for exit slips for my kids. I am trying to do this at least once each chapter – but I have not been as diligent as I should. I pass out the marble composition books that all have a question glued in them. I pick a question from an old assessment and give the students about 10 minutes to work. I explained to them at the beginning of the year that the goal of this exercise was two-fold. First, I could check in and see where their level of understanding is. Second, they would get some feedback from me to guide them to better understanding. No grades – but helpful (I hope) feedback. Seemed like a great plan. I am running out of enthusiasm fro this project as I have noticed that very few of my students seem to be taking this seriously. Students earning an A regularly on graded assignments are turning in work that is sloppy, incomplete, or even just completely blank. What this says to me is that many of my students don’t actually do work (study, read the text, finish their HW) until just before the actual assessment time. I had a direct conversation with one of my students about this. I talked about daily diligence and his response was that he felt that the course calendar – the document with nightly HW assignments and reading assignments – was simply a set of suggestions about what to do and when to do it. He genuinely did not see any problem with the fact that he was not doing his work on a daily basis. He asked why I was concerned with this since he got around to doing his HW before tests. I’m not surprised to hear that some (many?) of my students are only getting around to doing their work right before a test. I live with 80 students in a 4 story boys’ dorm and I see them at work. Many of them are working hard, but not working terribly efficiently. Lurching from assessment stress to assessment stress. I had genuinely thought that my exit slip strategy would help fight this. It’s pretty clear that this is not working this way. I want to have a conversation about this with my class but I don’t want to be a total cranky pants about this. I’ve got some thinking to do. Any clever advice out there?

One thought on “Help with a Teaching Strategy”

  1. Since this is an AP stats class would it be beneficial for the students to analyze the effects of spaced vs. mass practice on achievement? Would your stats students think they would be more likely to earn a 4 or 5 on the AP test if they chose spaced practice which improves their ability to apply information to new situations?

    I’m not sure if this is one of the studies Hattie used in his meta-analyses, but it could be a conversation starter.

    There’s no easy answer when dealing with human behavior. You can lead a horse to water…

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