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Common Sense Tip for the Classroom # 43

by Esther Robbins, Language Studies

Do not return a major test or paper to the class at the start of the hour, unless the remainder of the class is to be focused on said test.  We have all made this mistake, only to find that it is quite a chore to regain the attention of any of the students who did not make an "A" or "B" on the test.  The rest of the students will spend the class period reviewing their answers, checking their papers against their neighbors' and recalculating the score to see if there's been a mathematical error.

Conversely, do not return a major test or paper just as the students walk out of the classroom at the end of the hour.  This will frustrate even the "A" students.  You should return tests etc. toward the end of the hour, leaving enough time to go over the test to the satisfaction of the class (20 to 30 minutes, perhaps, depending on the material).

As time heals all wounds, the strategy of returning tests late in the hour also gives those with a low grade time on their own (typically 2 days until a class meets again) to get over the shock of their grade, review the material and see where they've gone wrong, and possibly even come and see you privately in your office.  Their anger and embarrassment will hopefully have diminished before they see you in the classroom again.  Students who might have fumed for the entire class period if they had received the "bad news" at the start of class–so causing bad feeling in the classroom and perhaps even a disruption of the class–will benefit from the chance to come to grips on their own without the class as audience to their emotions.

Happy teaching, and may all your days be good ones.


The Instructional Area Newsletter, Volume 17, No. 2

Fall 2001