Student Generated Reading Questions

CC Ken Whytock There is a lot of talk about assessment in Higher Education. Mostly it centers around midterm and final exams or the semester paper. However, there is a lot more to assessment than those three items.  In an article reprinted in Faculty Focus,  Offerdahl and Montplaisir researched using student generated reading questions as a formative assessment technique in an upper level science course.

Formative assessment is a range of formal and informal assessment procedures employed by teachers during the learning process in order to modify teaching and learning activities to improve student attainment. ( from Wikipedia) This type of assessment helps the professor gauge student ability PRIOR to a summative assessment such as a final exam which allows the professor the opportunity to correct student misinformation or conceptual understanding thus enhancing student learning. In the research the use of student generated reading questions did this by “instruct(ing) [students] to approach each reading assignment with the goal of achieving deep conceptual understanding. We expressed our expectation that through this process, students would certainly think of at least one question relevant to the material at hand. Students were instructed that their questions should not focus solely on factual material; rather, a reading question should also describe what conceptual problems the individual has with the material and how the individual arrived at that question.”

What was uncovered by the questions was a lack of common prior knowledge by the students that professors would have based lecture material on as a foundation. This unexpected find helped the professors address students foundational understanding and correctly build further knowledge. Please take the time to read the full article from the link above and consider how you might be able to engage this process in your own classes.

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