Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Preparing for the exam

The exam needs to be prepared from the beginning of the semester. Students may notice what the teacher observes when correcting a text during the elaboration of class summaries, when they collectively review the class notes (see below for a further description). Also, a few weeks before the assessment, students receive a comprehensive list of potential questions (about 30), some of which will be those that they have to effectively answer in the actual exam. These questions focus on reading the literature in a particular way, different from the previous readings that they do throughout the classes, using guidelines that can help them read the texts thoroughly. Exam questions demand a higher level of abstraction and generalization, they seek to establish relationships between texts and authors, between the literature and the topics addressed in the classes.
A week before the first midterm exam, students participate in an exam simulation: during class hours, they have to give written answers to these potential questions, in the same time they have during the real exam, and writing them in the same length. This time they are not qualified. This is considered a class for trying the dynamics of the actual examination, and reviewing the questions that may be asked on the topics seen in class. As they deliver the answers, the teacher reads some of them and chooses those that contain common difficulties, exemplifying virtues, or shortcomings worthy of comment. Together with the group of students, the teacher reads these selected responses and proposes an analysis, as if to revise the text and improve it, in regard to its content and form. On the blackboard, everyone collectively builds the structure and contents that the ideal answer should have. The teacher then tells the students that he or she will evaluate the exams in the following week, according to the same criteria shown during this collective simulation. Finally, the teacher gives a written evaluation criteria, which he or she will be taking into account when assessing the actual exams, as well as a model of ideal response; everyone reads these and comments. 

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