“Integrative Studying” for Exams

In most of my classes where I use exams, I typically distribute some novel stimulus material in advance of the exam. It might be a case study, a research article, or a news event. I tell students that a portion of the exam will apply directly to this material, but I do not tell them how. The material I choose typically could apply to any of the areas covered on the exam. Students are then able to spend about a week thinking about how the material connects to each of the topics in the course. They decide what concepts apply and which material is less relevant. In doing so, students actively try to analyze the material and make connections in more sophisticated ways. What I ask on the exam is really secondary; the real work of learning happens before they take the exam.

Mark J. Sciutto
Professor of Psychology Director, Muhlenberg Center for Teaching and Learning (MCTL) at Muhlenberg College | marksciutto@muhlenberg.edu | Website

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