DO WE KNOW HOW WELL PREPARED OUR STUDENTS ARE FOR OUR COURSES? A. Rovick, et al. Rush Medical College, Chicago, IL 60612.
 
    Every teacher makes assumptions about what students know when they enter their course. These assumptions are based on the course prerequisites and influence what and how we teach. If the assumptions are incorrect, students’ learning of course material can be impaired. With inputs from 11 teachers at a variety of educational institutions, we created a list of multiple choice questions that address topics thought to be prerequisite for learning respiratory physiology. Each instructor selected 10 questions (5 fact-based and 5 application-based) appropriate for their particular course and predicted the performance of their entering students on each question. The questions were then administered on the first day of class to a total of 511 students in 6 courses. Although the average faculty-predicted score and the average score achieved by the class often did not differ significantly, in 38/68 instances faculty predicted better performance than was observed (mean difference = 24.5 pts, range = 0.1 to 67.1). In 29/68 instances students performed better than faculty predicted (mean difference = 19.0 pts, range = 0.8 to 43.7). Furthermore, faculty over-predicted performance on application questions slightly more often than they did on factual questions (21 vs. 17). Faculty assumptions about students’ previously acquired knowledge can be faulty, and hence appear to be an inadequate guide for faculty in planning a physiology course. (Funded in part by NSF Grant No. DUE-9652782.)
 
FASEB J. 12(4):A57, 1998.
 
 
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