Reflection After Exam #1

Dexter Perkins
Univ. N. Dakota
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Initial Publication Date: October 29, 2008


Students did poorly on the first exam, so I borrowed and modified this exercise. It is intended to get them to think about what THEY can do to improve performance on future exams. The original idea came from Marsha Lovett at Carnegie Mellon, was modified by Karl Wirth at Macalester, and then modified by me.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications



This could be used in any course. It is particularly useful if a class, overall, has not performed at a high level on an exam. If would be much less effective if students had done well.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

How the activity is situated in the course

I use this sort of exercise after most exams.


Content/concepts goals for this activity


Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

This exercise helps them develop assessment, evaluative and critical thinking skills.

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

A self reflection after an exam helps students understand why they performed as they did. If students did not perform at a high level, there are things that they could do differently in the future. But, if they are not asked to stop and think about them shortly after an exam, the teachable moment is lost.

Metacognitive components of the activity

Students reflect about what worked and what did not work for them when they took an exam. They are forced to think about changes they can make to improve performance.

Metacognitive goals for this activity:

To help students improve their exam preparation skills.

Assessing students' metacognition

I have student feedback that confirms that the vast majority think this exercise was very beneficial.

Determining whether students have met the goals

It is easy to see if the goals are met just by reading what they submit. Additional feedback can come from discussions with the class or with individuals.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

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