Conversations with Professors Summer 2009

an old design 02 by ohhector.An open letter to students in my Conversations with Professors session, Summer 2009:

Welcome to Georgia Southern University!

Our goals today, as set by the Office of the First-Year Experience, were:

  • Understand how to approach the first week of classes, such as the importance of:
  • The syllabus and knowing how to read one;
  • Settling on a course schedule no later than the last day of drop/add (August 20 this Fall semester) and preferably well before then.
  • Appreciate some basic tenets of the student-faculty relationship, such as:
  • Most faculty care deeply that students learn the material in their classes and will go to great lengths to help them master the material, provided that they demonstrate that they are willing to apply themselves and work hard; and,
  • Like students, individual faculty members differ in their rules and expectations. It’s the student’s responsibility to know what each of their professors expects (see that syllabus!).

Here are links to a few of the many things we discussed today in our CwP session:

Questions as you prepare for Fall 2009? I’m happy to help.



Key Learnings in FYE 1220 Fall 2008

Graduation Rubber DuckiesAs our fall semester is winding down in my Public Relations Publications class at Georgia Southern University, we had a fun way to wrap up the key learnings.

Each student chose a small character (ninja, pirate or rubber ducky) from a basket and named the character. Then they each came up with a word or phrase that started with each letter in the name. (Full directions to the assignment are at my Becoming Learner Centered blog.)

A few volunteers came to the front of the class and presented their key learnings to us by showing their list and character on the document projector.

You’ll see what the key learnings for my students were as comments to this blog post. By having them create their own mnemonics in class today, I’m hopeful that they’ll remember many of the key points of this class long after it is over.

How to Study for Final Exams

final-examsFinal exams are approaching on college campuses around the world. Finals can be stressful, even for the most prepared students. Here are some tips to help you succeed:

Preparing for the Final

  • Find out what your entire final exam schedule is so that you’ll know how many finals you will have on each day.
  • Prepare a written schedule for yourself indicating when you will study for each test. Leave some time in your schedule for exercise and relaxation, too.
  • If the professor offers a study guide, use it.
  • If the professor offers a review session for the exam, go to it.
  • Know if the final is comprehensive (covering everything since the beginning of the semester or quarter).
  • Find out what kind of exam it will be. You’d study differently for a multiple-choice (Scantron) final than an essay (blue book) one.
  • If the final will be taken online, find out if you have to go to a specific computer lab on campus at a specific time, or if you’ll be allowed to take the final on your own computer. Also find out how many chances you will have to take the final. Assume it’s just one chance unless you hear differently from the professor.
  • If you have your previous exams available, scour the exams for things that you think will be on the final. Flag your notes by highlighting or using Post-It notes.
  • Don’t pull an all-nighter. (Though some people are successful with studying all night and then taking a test with no sleep, I wouldn’t recommend you try it for the first time on a final exam.)
  • Calculate your grades in the class. Determine what score you will need to get the grade you’re hoping for in the class. You may discover that you can’t possibly get an A, no matter how well you do on the final, but to get a B, you only need to get a few questions right.
  • If you’re an auditory learner, record yourself reading your notes aloud, then play the recording back several times. (You can use the free online service Utterli for this; simply register with Utterli and then call your assigned phone number with your cell phone to start the recording.)
  • If the exam is an open-book exam, this does not mean that you don’t have to study at all. In fact, one of the most challenging exams I ever took as an undergrad was an open-book essay exam.
  • ADDED ON NOV 22: Consider creating a detailed Final Exam Battle Plan.

On the Day of the Final

  • Eat a meal and drink water.
  • Don’t overdo it with the caffeine.
  • Know what to bring with you to the final. Do you need a blue book? A Scantron? (And if you need a Scantron, which kind do you need?) A pencil? A pen?
  • Are food and drinks allowed in the classroom where your final will be? Sometimes, the rules are different for exam days than other days.
  • Even if you don’t usually wear a watch, take one with you to the final. It’s unlikely you will be able to look at your cell phone during the final.

During the Final

  • For a paper-based exam, read through the entire final exam before you start answering any questions at all. This way, you will know what you’re facing.
  • If the final is an online exam, find out if you can revisit questions, or if after you click past a question you cannot go back to it again.
  • If you’re using a Scantron and you skip a question to finish later, make sure you’re answering your questions next to the correct answers. (When I took my GRE to get into grad school, I skipped a question on the first page of the booklet, but never skipped a number on the Scantron. When I realized it, I only had 10 minutes to go back and put the answers with the correct questions. Talk about stress!)
  • Keep a close eye on the time you have allotted.
  • Some students benefit from answering the most difficult questions first, while others do better completing all the easier ones. Do what works for you.

After the Final

  • Do not share with other students what was on the final exam. In most universities, this is a violation of the honor code.

Now it’s your turn: What final exam tips do you have to share? Please let us know through your comments below.


Photo Credit:

Final Exam Care Packages

exam-weekThroughout the nation — and perhaps around the world — college students are preparing (or preparing to prepare!) for their final exams. I’ve been a college professor for more than two decades, and I am also the parent of a college student. To help my son with this stressful time in any student’s life, I’ll be sending him a Final Exam Care Package. Here are a few of the items that he’ll find when he opens this box next week. If you’re a student, you might want to share a link to this post with your parents.

My plan is to put this package together myself. However, if life intervenes, I may “cheat” and order a pre-packaged one from Tiger Surprise, which caters specifically to Auburn University students (where my eldest is a sophomore). Either way, my son will receive a tangible reminder that his mom and dad want him to take care of himself and do well on his first college finals.

Though I know he’ll be appreciative of the goodies in his care package, I know my son, and I bet he won’t call to tell me it arrived. This gives me the excuse to call him and see how he’s doing. I won’t grill him with tons of questions about his finals; instead, I’ll provide a listening ear and lots of encouragement. . . and a few of my best study tips.

Note: Parents can find the overall final exam schedule for most universities at the school’s website. However, you’ll probably need to check with your students to determine exactly when their finals are based on their class schedules.

So, what would you like to see in your own final exam care package? Do you (or your student) have favorites? Please share them as a comment.

Photo Credit:

Ropes Course Blog Post

Southern AdventuresThis week, we went to Southern Adventures at Georgia Southern’s RAC for a teambuilding activity: the low ropes challenge course.

For this week’s blog post, please address the following:

  1. What did you learn about yourself and your classmates at Southern Adventures?
  2. What did this experience have to do with our theme in FYE 1220 (Making Connections)?
  3. How will you take what you learned at Southern Adventures with you in future classes and group activities (even if you aren’t physically climbing or balancing)?

Also, follow these additional guidelines:

  • Include at least one photo (from our Flickr photo set)
  • Add at least one tag to the post
  • 250 words minimum
  • Deadline: November 21, by 5:00
  • barbara_is_listening

    Creating Our FYE 1220 Final Exam

    Questions by Oberazzi.For our Final Exam in FYE 1220, Mackenzie and I would like your help. Let’s develop a list of what you consider to be the most important things you’ve learned, and then turn that list into multiple choice questions. You’ll find out in class which categories you’ll need to write questions for. (If you were not in class on the day we assigned categories, you can see your assignment in Final Exam Question Assignment.)

    Your questions are due before class on Monday, December 1. This assignment counts as part of your participation points in FYE 1220.

    Start Writing Questions (clicking this link will bring you to the page where you will enter your questions and answers).

    Photo Credit:

    Checking on Your Grades

    At Georgia Southern University, we’re now well past the midterm mark in Fall Semester. If you haven’t been keeping close tabs on your grades in all your classes, now is a good time to do so. Some professors keep grades updated in WebCT Vista, while others use different methods. [NOTE: Grades for all my classes are kept up-to-date in WebCT Vista.]

    So what do you do if you find a discrepancy between what you believe your grades are and what your professor has recorded? See what a variety of professors from several universities recommend.