I am sharing my own
experiences as a
student and life-long learner. Often students ask for advice when
they get a lower grade on a test than they hoped for. Others do not ask
for advise, but need it. I hope you find something that
for you. -mb
| Keeping Up in Class | Making
Sense with Application
| Reasons to Practice
by Marvin Bartel, Ed.D.
Professor of Art
Goshen, Indiana 46526
When I was in a class that was especially difficult, I invited another
student in the class to study with me. We benefited from each other's
notes. We were able to ask each other questions and formulate problems
for each other that we thought would be important test items. We
solving our own test problems together until we felt like we had some
It helped us both significantly. Being in a position to teach (explain)
something to a colleague helped me clarify and reinforce my own
During the test I was more confident and could work faster.
The course was an important requirement, but really out of my field
of expertise. When I got a low grade on a mid term essay test, I
my study methods and concentrated on learning more detailed terminology
and names so I could use the technical terms, dates, and theories
when writing answers to questions. I had made a fundamental mistake in
learning. It was not enough for me feel that I understood what was
said in the lectures. I had to feel like I could master the
material. I could no longer "blow off" the reading assignments. On the
final, instead of only giving general summaries for answers, I also
specific examples to substantiate general principles. When studying, I
made preliminary lists and sub lists to help myself organize materials
and arguments better. On the final exam the professor found substance
my responses. He found evidence that I could use the material. He
was more convinced by my answers. I was quite proud to move from a bad
grade on the mid term to an average grade on the final in a field that
was totally out of my field of expertise.
I was in a class with lots of new material outside my field.
I couldn't take notes fast enough and think about what was being said
the same time. I took a tape recorder into class. During
lecture my class notes were sketches of relevant material and ideas.
class I added notes from the tape. This gave me a chance to
the material while still remembering the presentation. This was a
second chance to jot down possible test questions and to make
with prior knowledge and experiences.
I don't remember new things well unless I can make an application of
the new knowledge. I try to make my own imaginary creative application
of the concept being learned. I often jot down or sketch the
Motivation to Practice
It helps me to think visually. It is hard for me to remember
things by rote memory alone. To somehow picture something helps make a
much better imprint on my memory. I use my imagination. I sketch it. We
remember faces better than names. Faces are visual. Names are words.
Not many tests are actually tests of skill. However, some tests are.
Computer software skills are tested in some of my courses.
In art courses like ceramics and photography not all of the
not based on tests, but much of the grade is based on the quality of
produced. Skill is not the only requirement for strong work, but skill
with the camera, or at the enlarger is very useful to me when
to produce good artwork.
I find it hard to practice new skills just for the sake of
because I keep getting distracted by other stuff I would rather be
My concentration is so bad that it becomes a waste of time.
Therefore, it is much easier for me to practice a new skill
when I give
myself an assignment or when I volunteer to produce something for
Once I need to know the skill in order to produce something meaningful,
I can learn difficult material and be prepared to do it on a test if
Having to teach something to another person is also very good
for me to practice it.
Experts are those who routinely review their mistakes to see what they
can learn from them them. I find that mistakes are good in two
In the first place, a mistake is an obvious reason to make a
to try another way, or to practice more.
In the second place, I find some mistakes are not so bad, but
actually the suggestions of better things to come. Some of my
creative solutions to difficult problems have been inspired by
and mistakes. Highly creative individuals are very good at seeing
the potential in accidents, mistakes, and opposites.
Mastering | Keeping Up in
| Making Sense with Application
| Reasons to Practice
--- other links to sources of
Check this list
of handouts and essays on learning and other helpful topics
by David A.
Goshen College Writing
Lab Floyd Saner's Links for Attention
Floyd Saner's Links for
at Goshen College Teaching
Others to Improve your grade
Study Skill Links
from Union College Get Good Grades web
Goshen College Health
is not the only network to use ---
Talk to your
Have lunch with a successful student. Invite your
Development Office in the
Ad Building for help
time management, peer tutors, and other resources for Goshen College
College Art Department
Bartel Courses Bartelart.com
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updated July 2002