Southeastern Section - 54th Annual Meeting (March 17–18, 2005)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 3:20 PM


BOUKER, Polly A., Science Department, Georgia Perimeter College, 1000 University Center Lane, Lawrenceville, GA 30043,

At the time of an exam, students are most likely the best prepared for a discussion of course material than at any other time preceding the exam. However, this is typically a time in which discussion is discouraged.

An innovative approach to conducting exams utilizes discussion of exam questions as a learning tool. To realize this goal of learning through assessment, students complete the exam on an individual basis, and then retake the exam with other members of randomly pre-assigned groups. At this point, students are permitted to discuss the answers to each test question with other members of their group. For many students, the material becomes even more clear at this time, and they are able to see what they missed, and why, which helps in their preparation for the final exam.

Groups who improve their score over the individual scores for each group member, are rewarded with bonus points on their individual exams. This encourages students to actively participate in the discussion, because they are motivated to succeed as a group. These group exams generate rich discussion about geological concepts, and students indicate that they prefer this method to simply going over the correct answers even if they do not receive any bonus points.

An added benefit of this type of exam, is that there is “down time” for many students between when students complete the individual portion and the beginning of the group exam. During this time, improvement in critical thinking skills is encouraged through the use of non-geology logic problems.