Study Skills – Doing Homework, Creating Note Cards (Tuesday 11/17/09)

November 17, 2009 at 9:23 pm Leave a comment

Note – A series of Study Skills related articles appears here each Tuesday. Last week I discussed coping strategies for students doing homework. This week I continue on the homework theme, focusing on an assignment that requires students to create note cards for difficult problems.

The Assignment

This is an assignment that could take up to 10 minutes of class time.

Begin by assigning homework near the end of the class period, as usual. Instruct students to check their answers after completing each of the exercises.

Tell the students that for any problem they miss, they should
-Write the problem, and what went wrong, on the front of a note card.
-Work out the problem correctly on the back of the note card.

In Class – The Next Day

Collect the note cards at the beginning of the next class to look them over. The benefit to you as the instructor is that you will have a summary of which problems your students are having trouble with. I recommend looking through the cards as you have time throughout the lecture, so you can return them to the students.

Begin class by briefly discussing how to use these note cards as part of an overall test preparation strategy, as well as the potential benefits of using these cards. If a student makes a card for each difficult problem in the chapter, then the student has already begun their preparation for the chapter exam. I believe that students need to identify which types of problems they struggle with, and devote the majority of their preparation time to these problems. A student with this set of note cards has a clear record of the types of problems that gave them trouble.

Another benefit to the student is that he or she can review these difficult problems over and over as the chapter progresses. This allows the student to self remediate older material while learning new material. This should help the student make efficient use of their time as the exam approaches.


The note cards that students create for difficult homework problems have three direct benefits.

  1. The instructor can see which types of problems the class is struggling with.
  2. The student creates a running list of problems which are difficult for the student. This allows the student to create a student-specific list of problems to go over before the next exam.
  3. The student can review the solutions over and over as the chapter progresses, which helps the student to become more familiar with the problems that the student finds difficult, as well as their solutions.

This activity takes very little time away from your class, and helps both you and your students to get ready for the next exam at the same time. That’s a win-win situation, and I highly recommend this assignment.

I am a math instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. If there are topics you’d like me to address in future Study Skills articles, send in your requests through the contact page on my web site. Be sure to check out next Tuesday’s article.  – George


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MyMathLab – Item Analysis (Monday 11/16/09) General Teaching – Solution Manual Assignments (Wednesday 11/18/09)

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