This query is motivated by Jennifer’s post, but is an issue I have been concerned about for a number of years. Do we negatively affect our students' ability and willingness to learn by giving them too many 'aids' to help them succeed in our courses ? Do we end up demanding too little of our students? For many years I have given my students review questions from which their essay exams will be taken. I have also had review session before exams. I have discontinued the practice of having a review session because I found that students did not study before the review and hoped that the answers would be given at the review. Often, the answers ended up being mediocre and were not well-developed or reasoned. I ended up unknowingly lowering my expectations.
I am now contemplating not given out review questions before essay exams. My concern is that students wait for the review questions and then only read and study what they think they need to in order to answer the questions. I have had students ask me for review questions at the start of the semester so they can focus their studies. Unfortunately, I have found, as I mentioned earlier, that many times their answers are not as well-developed and reasoned as I had expected. I have come to believe that this is because they did not adequately study certain pertinent material because they did not see the relevance of this material to the question. Maybe they did not pay close attention in class, or participate in discussions of the material because they thought that they had (or would get) the information in the form of the questions that they needed to be successful.
When I was a student back in the 60’s and 70’s, professors did not give out as much, if any, assistance to students other then having office hours. Their argument was that if we studied the material adequately we should be able to answer any reasonable question asked. They expected that if we had any issues with the material we would raise them in class or take advantage of their office hours.
So, I am wondering what your take is on this issue. Should we demand more of our students and give them less assistance? I am probably going to discontinue this practice.