Some students are quick to say that I did not learn "anything" in his or her class.
The problem with this statement is that if they took examinations in the class, then they learned something. This research published in the prestigious Science journal re-evaluates the value of examinations. So from the previous study on what they learn in class (writing and substantive reading) we may have to add examinations to the list. This is an exert from a longer piece written by Pam Belluck and appears on New York Times web site, but you can access the complete article at Science online.
"The research, published online Thursday in the journal Science, found that students who read a passage, then took a test asking them to recall what they had read, retained about 50 percent more of the information a week later than students who used two other methods. One of those methods — repeatedly studying the material — is familiar to legions of students who cram before exams. The other — having students draw detailed diagrams documenting what they are learning — is prized by many teachers because it forces students to make connections among facts. These other methods not only are popular, the researchers reported; they also seem to give students the illusion that they know material better than they do.
In the experiments, the students were asked to predict how much they would remember a week after using one of the methods to learn the material. Those who took the test after reading the passage predicted they would remember less than the other students predicted — but the results were just the opposite. “I think that learning is all about retrieving, all about reconstructing our knowledge,” said the lead author, Jeffrey Karpicke, an assistant professor of psychology at Purdue University. “I think that we’re tapping into something fundamental about how the mind works when we talk about retrieval.”
Well I guess exams are not useless after all.