Home » Higher Education » Fri Fun Facts: Thinking about First Year Exams

Fri Fun Facts: Thinking about First Year Exams

Today’s Friday Fun Facts is about mid-terms and Teaching Assistants.

I have previously blogged about the importance of letting go and giving the Teaching Assistants more autonomy combined with guidance. This last week I facilitated a review session for the large first year class. This is the one thing that I have not let go of in the team-taught course–a sense of going that extra mile for the large first year class.

To be clear, if the course was not team taught with three other faculty, the review session would take place during class time. But the review session I offer is after class. This does add to my workload and I’m fine with this. I am thinking about how I prepare them for the mid-term and the process of working with the Teaching Assistants like a team. My role is to mentor the Teaching Students in this process of assessing student work.

1. I think that first year students need more guidance with their first mid-term. I understand that during the Fall term that the mid-term in my class might be their first mid-term ever.

2. I provide a list of possible exam questions so that they can study during the three to five days before the exam.

3. The exam will pull from the array, but not require them to write on all of them.

4. I grade about 10-20% of the exams in order to provide the Teaching Assistants with some sample marked exams and I also provide them a working key. I say working key since the students might offer us a different point on a question.

5. I view the Teaching Assistants’ work and have any D or F exams include a note that they must visit me during my office hours. I feel that these students should chat with me about their exam. I need to know what happened. And honestly in 14 years of working with first year students those that come to my office generally own their poor grade—didn’t study, didn’t come to class or similar point.

Overall, I do feel that teaching first year requires a more hands on approach. The jump to university work is harder for some students. And each year my students remind me of this. Good luck to all of us writing and marking exams!

6 thoughts on “Fri Fun Facts: Thinking about First Year Exams

  1. Your effort in going the extra mile was much appreciated when I took POLI 103 with you. Thanks for your commitment to your students!

  2. These are some excellent strategies! I have a smaller class but still struggle with how to adequately support a new teaching assistant every year: it’s a lot of training and having a clear procedure would make this better for professor, TAs and students!

  3. I second that, I very much appreciate your efforts in going the extra mile while I was in Poli 103, I utilized the strategies taught in the review sessions for other courses and am enjoying the success because of it.

    Thank you 🙂

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