“I was wondering if I could arrange a meeting with you to go over my midterm. I am a little surprised that I did very poorly on it, since I studied extremely hard. I have not missed a class, and am putting in a lot of effort to do well, and unfortunately I am currently failing.”
When I received the above email from a student I will call (but is not actually named) Britney, I was saddened by the student’s distress, impressed by her initiative, and ready with a strategy for how to tackle her concerns going into the next midterm for the course.
I am fortunate enough to work in a Department at The University of British Columbia that benefits from the work of Carl Wieman-Science Education Initiative (CWSEI) Teaching & Learning Fellows. These Fellows have done some incredible things for the curriculum of the Earth & Ocean Sciences Department; and as their friend and colleague I have learned a great deal from them, including a study skills intervention method I chose to use with Britney.
We sat down shortly after I received her above email. Britney was quite anxious about her performance in the class thus far, and was frustrated that hours of studying did not pay off. After covering some content questions she very much wanted clarified, I turned the conversation to study skills. I emphasized the importance of studying to the learning goals, as well as reviewing assigned homework problems. Britney indicated that she would give these strategies a shot, and we corresponded a bit between this initial meeting and the next midterm in regards to more content-based questions.
After the next midterm was written, I received another email from Britney:
“I just wanted to thank you again for helping me with this midterm! I am super happy to say that I got 71 on it!!!!! Honestly emailing you was such a great decision, and the study tips really worked!”
Her mark had improved over 20% from one midterm to the next. As her Instructor, I felt a great deal of pride, satisfaction, joy, and confidence in my abilities to coach a student through difficultly with a content-heavy class. Britney did the work and empowered herself with new skills; I simply showed her the way.
The effectiveness of this study skills intervention strategy has been investigated and was presented by Deslauriers & Harris (2010) at a CWSEI annual event. I am by no means representing this research and intervention development as my own work.