Posted by: Emily | October 22, 2008

What do you do with your exercises?

I had a class this morning, a group of around 17 English composition students. We met in the lobby for a physical tour, followed by an introduction to the library catalog and databases, rounded out by fifteen minutes of exercises designed to see if the students retained anything from my thirty-minute whirlwind. Leaving aside for now questions about how useful any of this might be in the long run, I want to ask a practical question. What do you guys do with your exercise sheets?

I mean, maybe I’m the only person still using paper forms. Maybe y’all have digitized everything by now. Have you? Or do some of you do what I do, and hand out a sheet of paper with questions on it? In the past I used to just let students walk out with the exercise sheet, but then it occurred to me (duh) that it might actually be helpful to look at their answers. So now I’ve got this stack of exercise sheets (most of which include a citation to a scholarly journal article written in correct format, amazing!) and no clear idea what to do with them. Before I drop them into a file where they will disappear and never be seen again, should I code the data somehow? Is this the raw stuff of some future assessment program?



  1. When I distribute the activity handouts, I tell them that this is not to turn in and it’s not for a grade, as a way of dispelling any performance anxiety the exercise might cause. So this means that I never actually see the actual work they do on the worksheet. But what I do do is call on students to share with the class what they did and how they did it and what kind of search results they got and so on. So I do, in a way, find out their answers.

    I’m also kind of exhausted by paper handouts. I have a thousand extra leftover exercise handouts languishing in various piles throughout my office. What a waste of paper! So in one class, I just stuck the questions in a LibGuide and did it that way. It seemed to work okay.

  2. See, yeah, I usually do that too. But this time I thought I’d just tell them that I’d collect them, but not to put their names on it, and that it was part of the librarianly “drive to collect numbers and handouts.” (This usually makes them laugh, esp if they’ve had library sessions before.)

    We don’t have any such LibGuide business, and the chances of getting anything to rock and roll on the website seems pretty remote…

  3. I really like the idea of putting the questions in the guide — or linking a PDF of the handout from the guide that students could open in another browser window.

    I realized the other day that I’d been giving handouts to all members of small groups, which may have contributed to their *not* working as collectively as they might have otherwise (since they were able to keep working individually). I think in the future, if I do give handouts to groups, I’ll do it at a different ratio.

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