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How Learning Works by Richard E. Mayer, Marie K. Norman, Marsha C. Lovett, Michele DiPietro, Michael W. Bridges, Susan A. Ambrose

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CHAPTER 5

What Kinds of Practice and Feedback Enhance Learning?

When Practice Does Not Make Perfect …

I teach a public policy course to juniors, and I believe strong communication skills are essential to moving up the ranks in the public sector. As a result, I require my students to write frequently. The three papers I assign focus on the different types of writing my students will potentially do: a policy briefing, a persuasive memo to their boss, and an editorial for a newspaper. I had expected the students’ writing on these assignments to be at least decent because all of our students are required to take two writing courses in their first year. Then, when I saw the serious problems in their first papers, I thought at least I could help them improve. So I have been spending an enormous amount of time grading and writing margin comments throughout their papers, but it does not seem to be doing any good: the second and third assignments are just as bad as the first. As much as I think these assignments are useful because they prepare students for their future professional lives, I am ready to nix them because the students’ writing is so poor and my efforts are bringing about little or no improvement.

Professor Norman Cox

They Just Do Not Listen!

Last semester, when I taught Medical Anthropology, the students’ research presentations were all glitz and very little substance. So this time, because this project is worth 50 percent of their final grade, I tried to forewarn my students: ...

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