September 10 2013

Want to Reduce Guessing and Cheating While Making Students Happier? Give More Exams!

Professor Gary Westfall,


11:30-1:30, Tuesday, September 10, 2013

1425 Biomedical Physical Sciences Building

(Lunch Provided)

About the Session:

It is almost universally agreed that more frequent formative assessment (homework, clicker questions, practice tests, etc.) leads to better student performance and generally better course evaluations. There is, however, only anecdotal evidence that the same would be true for more frequent summative assessment (exams). There may be many arguments against giving more exams, including the general “pain” associated with examinations, as well as reduced teaching time, since classroom sessions are dedicated to exams rather than lecturing. We present evidence that increasing the number of exams in fact does lead to better learning success, less cheating and guessing on homework, and better student course evaluations. You can find these results published in the following article: "Want to Reduce Guessing and Cheating While Making Students Happier? Give More Exams!", James T. Laverty, Wolfgang Bauer, Gerd Kortemeyer, and Gary Westfall, Phys. Teach. 50, 540 (2012).

About Gary Westfall:

GaryWestfall is a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Michigan State University. He conducts research at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory and at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory at Michigan State University. Prof. Westfall is particularly interested in the introductory physics curriculum for engineering and science majors. In collaboration

with MSU colleagues Wolfgang Bauer and Walter Benenson, he has authored multimedia physics CDs for their students at MSU's Lyman Briggs College, and co-authored a textbook on CD-ROM, called cliXX Physik. In collaboration with these colleagues, he was instrumental in creating the Learning Online Network with CAPA (LON-CAPA). Since 2008, Bauer and Westfall have been part of a team of instructors, engineers, and physicists, who investigate the use of peer-assisted learning in the introductory physics curriculum. This project has received funding from the NSF STEM Talent Expansion Program, and its best practices have been incorporated into their textbook University Physics, which was published in 2010 by McGraw-Hill and is now in its second edition (January, 2013).

Video of the Session

Westfall STEM 2013 from ANR Communications MSU on Vimeo.

PowerPoint slides from the session below