Improving Student Performance on Exams

Holly Hill, Kinesiology

I had just given the second exam of the spring semester. The average grade was better than that of the first, so I wanted students to reflect on why it was better and what they could do to keep improving. I decided to use an exam survey.

When I returned exams in the past, students would check their grade and spend maybe five minutes looking over the exam. The exam survey gives them a structure for assessing their performance in detail. So this time, when I returned the exams, I handed out an exam survey as well.

Students had 10-15 minutes to review their work and complete the survey. They answered all of the questions and gave it back to me. As I looked over their answers, I could see that they were genuinely reflecting on what they had done well, what they had messed up, and why. For students who had done poorly on the exam, I noted some of their reflections and encouraged them when I could see that they were turning things around.

I kept the surveys until it was time to prepare for the next exam. I then returned them so that the students could review what they had said about their work on the past exam and adopt some good study habits this time. The exam surveys worked so well, I’m using them again this fall!