Friday, February 24, 2006

Answer Me These Questions Three

One of the biggest problems that I have in class is getting students to read the assigned reading. So, usually I have a weekly quiz that covers pieces of the reading. It gives a decent idea of how well folks are digging through. The problem is that while I think it's really helpful to have the quiz and go over the correct answers - sometimes it can even lead to a nice discussion or argument - it eats up a lot of time. I feel like I'm taking up a lot of the class with what I want them to get out of the readings rather than finding out what they're getting out of them.

So. This week I asked them to send me five specific questions that came from the readings, email them to me before class and we'd dig through some of them during class. A lot of the questions were kind of what I expected - simple identification or basic definition stuff, but some were just wonderful. I got some truly thoughtful ideas. I got some questions the untangled problems that I hadn't even seen. I got questions that dealt with overarching concepts from other classes. I hate to admit that I didn't expect such good stuff, but I was really happily blown away.

Then I realized I had no way of distilling all of the good questions into a class period. I ended up copying some of the best ones into a file and giving everyone a copy. We dealt with some big issues in class, but there were so many good questions that we didn't get to. I told them that they could come to office hours to talk about any of the questions, but I'm not sure if anyone will come. I don't want to leave them hanging after some of them went to so much work to put the questions together.

Now I don't know whether I should ask them to build questions for next week or not. One class preferred quizzes and the other preferred making questions themselves. I think that writing the questions really led them to approach the readings more carefully, but I'm not sure how much I can ask of them before they mutiny.

I do really love it when students surprise me like that though - so cool.


liz said...

Why not make up the quiz for the class that likes quizzes using the questions that the other class came up with?

Overread said...

I'm thinking that may be what happens. I may end up switching back and forth. Ok, Maybe I don't have a clue what I'll be doing... :)