I love cumulative exams.

In a recent Faculty Focus post, Maryellen Weimer argues in favor of cumulative or comprehensive exams, which most of my students aren’t particularly fond of.  [grin]  Put very simply, she says “Students don’t like cumulative exams for the very reason we should be using them: they force regular, repeated encounters with the content.

This post is a reminder to me to include more of my old test questions.  They are ideal for in-class discussion, formative and summative assessment of student understanding for a course unit, and even to help me identify vague or confusing questions.  (There have been a couple of those lately–so I’ve resolved to punt them off the exam and use them in class next semester so I can figure out how to fix them.)

I also love the ideas to bring up older course material as a way to instill better cumulative/comprehensive study habits.  Almost all the courses I teach have at least some long-term scaffolding to them (shouldn’t we be designing our courses that way???), and I need to do a better job of cultivating these skills in my students.  This was spring break week on my campus, and Monday I think I’ll open with a pop quiz based on her last item:  “Your friend Leo wasn’t in class last week.  He texts, asking what happened in class.  Text Leo a short answer and don’t tell him ‘nothing’.”