But tonight I'm wondering how much of a role enthusiasm/motivation/confidence played a part. Is there a sort of placebo effect that helped out my students?
I have this thing that I do before I take students to the computer lab to take the test each day. I don't think it's something I do that affects their performance, necessarily, though the intent is to get them pumped up. But it is definitely a gauge for their level of this-class/test-is-such-a-joke-and-I-don't-care-what-I-get-on-it factor.
"I say 'fired up,' you say 'ready to go!' FIRED UP?"So we yell that, disrupt the classes on either side of us as much as possible (sorry, Dusty), and then we go kill some tests. With a vengeance. Just like John McClain.
"READY TO GO!"
"READY TO GO!"
"READY TO GO!"2
But I have three periods. And second period doesn't get so fired up. They don't seem so ready to go. I yell; they mumble. I yell louder; they tell me how "gay" this is. I ask them if they really used "gay" as synonymous with stupid; they say "sorry, sorry, we mean 'dumb.'" Fantastic.
But second period has the lowest average test score for all three periods. Only three students passed in that class, while first period, which most definitely gets fired up and ready to go, boasts eight students who passed the test and an average test score 5 points higher.
Both classes have their negative Nellys, but in first period they aren't negative about getting fired up. Second period has more students who just guessed and blew off the test, but that could be a result of failing to get fired up. I'm just trying to figure out why there's such a big difference when both classes received the same instruction. And if it's something as simple as confidence, how do I give it to all my students, who happen to be sarcastic teenagers (and just so we're clear, I teach them because of it, just so you read my intonation there correctly that it is a term of endearment).
1. As if a test can assess something as broad as knowledge . . . (back)
2. Yes, I did steal that from the 2008 Obama campaign. Not because Obama's awesome, just because it's a really great cheer. I am being completely politically neutral. (back)