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An Active Learning Strategy for Reviewing Course Material

How can we verify that our students actually read and understand assigned material? The following active learning strategy provides an indication of what students read and understand.

Preparation for Class:

  1. Compose twelve to sixteen questions that cover the assigned reading and/or questions that address the salient points for a test. Try to include critical thinking questions.
  2. Determine the number of groups based on an equal number of questions per group. For example, if there are 12 questions, designate four groups made up of three students, or for 16 questions, four groups of four. Just be sure to use an even number of questions and groups.
  3. Move students into groups by either pre-selecting group members or by using a random selection process. A random selection process could include assigning students to groups by birthday, color of their shirt, home location, by handing them a colored tag as they enter the room, etc.
  4. If possible, rearrange chairs/desks so that the groups are easily identifiable.

In-class Activity:

  1. Distribute the questions; assign three to four questions to each group.
  2. While students are answering their assigned questions, list each group on the board and provide a space for their answers.
  3. As the groups answer their questions, have them list their responses on the board.
  4. When all groups have written their answers on the board, assign each group to review the answers of another group. If in analyzing the responses on the board, a group determines that the answer is not complete or inaccurate, they are free to change that answer.
  5. Once all groups have finished, review all of the answers, asking students if they all agree with each response or if they have a question about a particular answer. As you review each response, you might want to ask students where the answer is located in the text and/or how they came up with their answers.

TIP: If this activity is used for a test review, students should be taking notes about the answers on the board/class discussion.

This Teaching Tip was developed by Carole Kendy, English Professor.

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