Creating a Community of Learners – Group Test

September 2, 2010 at 10:34 am Leave a comment

My elementary algebra class meets twice a week (MW) for 2 hours a day. I finished up the material on linear equations and inequalities on Monday, and I wanted to sneak the exam in on Wednesday because next Monday is a holiday. Halfway through Monday’s class I announced that the test would indeed be on Wednesday, and that they had the remainder of the session to go over a practice test with their group.

Then I told them something that really caught their attention: the exam would be made up of two parts – a group part and an individual part. The group test would  take 20 minutes and count for 30% of their exam grade, and they would have the rest of the class to take the individual portion of the test. The groups worked pretty hard on their practice test, trying to make sure everyone in the group understood the material.

To me, it was not such a big deal because the first test in that class typically has strong results anyway. But it was a big deal to my students. I spoke with some of them as they finished and they told me a lot. One student said that it took away her stress about the exam. Another told me that she really liked working with the people in her group and it was helping her to understand. (She is an ESL student, and the repeated or alternative explanations from her group members were very helpful.)

I’ll be grading these exams over the weekend, and I’ll share results and observations next Thursday. Having glanced at their work, I’m expecting good things.

Do you feel that a sense of community is important to student success? Do you have experience in this area that you’d like to share? If so, please leave a comment or reach me through the contact page at my web site –


I am a math instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. Each Thursday I will be blogging about the importance of community in the classroom. If there’s a particular topic you’d like me to address, or if you have a question or a comment, please let me know. You can reach me through the contact page on my website –


Entry filed under: community, Math. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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