Academic First Year Experiences

  • View of alps from Aiguille du Midi mountain top.

    "Teaching in thin air...."

AFYE Applied: How Faculty Are Applying What They've Learned

Faculty attend AFYE workshops for many reasons.  Beginning in January 2016, you can read what your colleagues are saying about what they learned and how they applied it.  To add your experiences here, email Cheryl Spector.

Erin Delaney: Lessons from MAKE IT STICK

Erin assembled a slide show for students in which she applies the study principles of Make It Stick to test preparation:

Kristyan Kouri: Exam Wrappers

I first learned about the exam wrapper exercise when I attended an AFYE seminar in CIELO (now Undergraduate Studies on the Roof).

Exam Wrappers require that students summarize the comments I've made on their papers and then write what they will do differently in the future. Since I teach two upper division theory courses in sociology, which also include extensive writing assignments, and because many of these upper division students are still working to strengthen their study habits and writing skills,  I decided to allow the students to earn extra credit by completing an exam wrapper type exercise.  The exercise asks the students to do several things:

  1. Explain how you studied for the midterm.
  2. If you didn't get the grade that you hoped for, describe how you will study differently for the final.  
  3. Summarize the comments Dr. Kouri made on your sociological theory analysis paper. 

After reading through  a number of these exam wrapper papers, I've come to the conclusion that the exercise is extremely useful. Here's why: 

Students have thanked me for taking the time to make comments on their papers to help them with their analytic skills and writing, because they understand that my feedback will help them to write better papers in the future. Some of the students even state that they've never received instructor feedback on the papers that they have turned in, and they find the comments I make on their papers refreshing. (This doesn't surprise me because most of my colleagues report being extremely overworked.)

In terms of the things that they can do to improve their test scores, many students say working in groups with other student is a very productive way to study. Some also assert that if you want to commit concepts to memory, talking thorough hand-written notes and studying from hand-written flashcards is a far better strategy than studying from a computer or a phone. And logically, of course, in addition to studying from notes and in a group, many students point out that completing assigned readings is a key ingredient to earning a good grade on an exam.

Kristyan Kouri, PhD
Lecturer in Sociology and Gender & Women's Studies

Melissa Lalum: Lessons from MAKE IT STICK

You can read Melissa's discussions of how she applied concepts from Make It Stick including interleaving the practice or study of related topics, dispelling illusions of knowing, and testing students before you teach them the material at