UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI`I
HONOLULU COMMUNITY COLLEGE
FACULTY DEVELOPMENT NEWS
VOLUME 12, NO. 2 APRIL 4, 2003
HELPING YOUR STUDENTS TO SUCCEED ON EXAMS
by Lei Lani Hinds, Faculty Development Committee Member
As we approach the final exam season, faculty often hear students worry about "freezing" on exams and forgetting everything they have learned in spite of having put in the necessary study time. Because of advances over the last five years or so, science now knows a great deal more about how the brain functions, how we learn, and things that can impair or enhance learning and memory. If you have students who are anxious about exams and would like to help your students get over their anxiety and perform well, you may want to make a copy of these tips that come from brain research and give them to your students.
1. Students need to get at least 8 hours of sleep.
They need at least 6 1/2 hours of deep REM (dreaming) sleep for transfer from short-term memory in the amygdala to long-term memory in the neo-cortex. It usually takes about 1 1/2 hours of light sleep to get to REM sleep. If they do not get enough dreaming sleep, then the memories from that day will not transfer to long-term memory, and they will be lost.
Moreover, beyond losing the knowledge of the day, students who do not get enough sleep on a single night did not do as well on exams as those who had a full 8 hours. In a study at Princeton University, students who "pulled an all-nighter" not only had slower response times and impaired memories on the morning after the all-nighter than students who had adequate sleep, but the effects continued for three days after even though the students got enough sleep on the following days.
2. Students need to raise their endorphins to prevent anxiety, which stimulates adrenaline production, impeding the recall of memories and the transfer of knowledge from short-term to long-term memory.
Why do students draw a blank?
If you have students in your classes who report they studied really hard for an exam, knew the content, and then when the test started, they drew a total blank, here is the brain research explanation for that phenomenon, and the solution: Back in the caveman days, life was survival-oriented, so human beings developed the flight-fight response. The cavemen had to run away from dangerous situations and animals such as sabre tooth tigers, so the body would release adrenaline, which would go to the brain and release cortisols stimulating the motor activity section of the brain to give the extra strength and speed necessary to get away. Unfortunately, the cortisols also completely shut down the prefrontal cortex (the thinking part of the brain) to concentrate all "energy" in the part of the brain devoted to these motor activities. Nowadays, we don't have sabre tooth tigers, but our bodies have not evolved, and if we look at our English, math, science, etc., teachers and their midterms and finals as sabre tooth tigers coming to kill us, our body still responds the same way as the cavemen's body did and literally shuts down the part of the brain where our knowledge about English, math, science, etc., is stored.
How can they avoid this?
If students raise their endorphins, they can prevent the anxiety which stimulates adrenaline production and shuts down the front of the brain. Studies have shown that laughter, exercise, eating chocolate, and maybe salmon, can all stimulate the
release of endorphins, "feel good" substances in the brain which help students remain calm, receptive to learning, and able to recall memories, including knowledge about English, math, science, etc.,.
You may want to suggest to your students that before they take a test, they should take a short walk up the mall, munch on a couple of Hershey's kisses, and read the comic strips in the newspaper, to get them in a relaxed state for the exam. Then, if in spite of taking these steps, students still get anxious and go blank, they should take three deep breaths right away to break the cycle of releasing adrenaline.
The first two suggestions assume the students have actually learned the knowledge and are only having problems recalling it. But what does brain research say about effective strategies for learning the knowledge in the first place? If you have students who are struggling to learn the materials in your course, you may want to suggest the strategies below.
1. Students should "get physical" in order to learn.
An old study has shown that students who did calisthenics while studying French learned it better than students who used traditional methods to study French even though the calisthenics had nothing to do with the French. More recent studies have shown that it is the physical activity, moving muscles of the body, that helps make the chemical changes in the brain creating the neural pathways and synapses for memories. Students should take handwritten notes in class (moving their arms), repeat information aloud (making their vocal cords move and listening to the information with their ears), picture it in their mind's eye ("seeing" it), walk around as they say the information, and draw pictures of it with their hands (using the muscles of their legs and arms) to implant the knowledge in their brains.
2. Students need to practice their knowledge, just like athletes
They need repeated "hits" on subject matter to recall it, but not all of them have to be "in-depth" hard hits. The first "hit" makes the neural pathway in the brain, and the later ones "deepen" them. It
is the return "hits" which ensure that the pathway gets deeper and, therefore, it is easier and faster to find and go down the path to the knowledge than it would be find a shallow, faint pathway. Star athletes are able to make their athletic feats look so easy because they have gone over the pathways so many times over the months and years that the pathways are very deep and easy to find, and the stunts are almost second nature, and, for the stars, easy. Thus, there is now a scientific explanation for the old advice about reviewing for short periods of time daily, rather than cramming the night before an exam.
30 THINGS WE KNOW FOR SURE ABOUT ADULT LEARNING
from: Innovation Abstracts. Vol. VI, No 8, March 9, 1984. Published by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
by Ron and Susan Zemke
Although this resource is dated, it still contains many valuable tips about adult learners. Certainly you have adolescents in you classroom, but the majority of learners in your classroom would have to be classified as adult learners. A variety of sources provide us with a body of fairly reliable knowledge about adult learning. This knowledge might be divided into three basic divisions: things we know about adult learners and their motivation, things we know about designing curriculum for adults, and things we know about working with adults in the classroom.
Motivation to Learn
In the Classroom
of relevant student experiences, and the clock. Ironically, it seems that instructors are best able to establish control when they risk giving it up. When they shelve egos and stifle the tendency to be threatened by challenge to plans and methods, they gain the kind of facilitative control needed to effect adult learning.
EFFECTIVE VS INEFFECTIVE TEACHERS
People often remember more about how a subject is taught than the teacher's knowledge of the subject. Here is a list of qualities of teachers from a survey of 12,000 adults. Remember back to your favorite teachers. What do you remember about them? What do you remember about the subject they taught? If your students were interviewed on the mall, which qualities would they say you possess?
sense of humor
interested in students
knowledge of subject
resource of information
flies off the handle
explanations not clear
partial, has favorites
The following faculty members are new to our campus this spring. As you meet our new colleagues, please help make them feel welcome. They include;
Lorrie Cahill, Student Services, has joined Honolulu Community College as Job Placement Coordinator, Technical Occupational Programs. She holds a BA from UH-West Oahu, majoring both in Psychology and Sociology. She was most recently a WorkHawaii Counselor/Case Manager at Oahu Work Links, Workforce Development Office in Waipahu for 2 years and formerly a Teacher/Counselor at Work Hawaii's Ho'ala Program for three years. Prior to joining the City in 1997, Lorrie was an Employment and Training Program Specialist at Alu Like, Inc., where she worked for more than 13 years. At HCC, she is looking forward to working with faculty, advisory boards, students and employers to implement meaningful career and job opportunities for our technical program students and alumni. In her free time, Lorrie enjoys taking hula classes for the exercise. She also loves animals, good movies, travelling, and is a huge Wahine volleyball fan.
Malia Gibson, Coordinator, Native Hawaiian Center, was born and raised on the island of Maui and graduated from Maui High School. She earned her bachelor's degree in Hawaiian Studies from UH-Manoa. After completing her BA degree, Malia went on to earn her Master's degree in Political Science. Malia is also a lomi practitioner, a skill she learned from her grandmother. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, watching movies, and visiting botanical gardens.
Carol Hiraoka, Mathematics, was born and raised in Honolulu. She graduated from Roosevelt High School and received both her BA and MA in mathematics from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Carol spent many years in the aerospace industry in California, Florida, and Michigan working on reliability studies and scientific programming. More recently, she worked in the computer programming and network operations department at Verizon Hawaii. She hopes to share whatever she can, applying some of these new technologies to teaching mathematics here at HCC. In her spare time, besides spending time with her family, Carol enjoys reading, gardening, and craft work.
Angie Lambert, Student Services Counselor, College Skills Center, is enjoying learning the ropes at HCC and the CSC. Angie grew up in Mississippi where she graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a BS degree in Social and Rehabilitation Services. During her undergraduate practicum at Millsaps College in Jackson, she discovered her love of working with college students. Upon graduation, she moved to Dallas where she met her husband. They have moved to and have been working at several locations around the world including Alabama, Texas, Germany, South Korea, and now Hawaii. Angie has worked for Central Texas College in Killeen, Texas, as a Technical-Vocational Advisor and as a Training Coordinator for the State of Mississippi. She has also worked for the Federal government as an Employment Counselor and most recently as a Relocation Counselor in Korea. When she is not running her daughters to lessons and play dates, Angie is taking advantage of the wonderful Hawaii weather and learning to play tennis.
Richard Brill, Professor, Natural Science, explained the cause of thunder in the "Ask the Experts" section of the in a recent issue of Scientific American.
Brenda Kwon, Instructor, Language Arts, was one of the guest editors and also contributed to the April Bamboo Ridge special issue entitled, "YOBO: Korean American Writing In Hawai'i." The anthology is a collection of poetry, fiction, essays, and artwork by Koreans with ties to Hawai'i and coincides with the centennial celebrations commemorating the 100th anniversary of the first large group of Koreans to arrive in the islands. Featured writers include Nora Keller, Cathy Song, Gary Pak, and Chris McKinney, Instructor, Language Arts.
Tom Linker, Kupa Ka Wai, Title III Transition Counselor, represented HCC at the second annual Surfing Arts, Sciences and Issues Conference in Ventura, California, this past fall. Tom delivered a plenary session, "In the Shadow of Aloha" which addressed the theme of the conference, "Where is the aloha spirit in surfing today?"
Doric Little, Professor, Speech, was a judge for the finals of a statewide high school debate on Federal Recognition of Hawaiian Sovereignty sponsored by OHA this past fall. She was the keynote speaker recently at the Hawaii Learning Disabilities, ADHD, and Teen Conference. Her keynote address was titled, "Right Brain, Left Brain or Both: Should You Care?" Doric also had an article, "Learning Differences, Medical Students, and the Law" published in the February, 2003 issue of Academic Medicine.
Chris Ann Moore, Lecturer, Philosophy, made presentations earlier this semester at The Hawaiian Institute for Human Rights on Women's Rights as Human Rights, and at The United Nations Association on The Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Both presentations were in conjunction with International Women's Day.
Laure Burke, Instructor, Cooperative Education made presentations at two local medical conferences sponsored by the Georgetown University Hospital this past fall. The first was at the Prescription for Improving Communication Big Island Medical Conference in Hualalai. The second was at the Improving Communication Skills at Work and at Home, Oahu Medical Conference in Honolulu.
Miles Nakanishi, Professor, ECE, attended the Hawaii Association for the Education of Young Children annual leadership conference in Waikiki last fall. This conference gathers early childhood leaders and professionals to address issues and educates them on the trends and current themes in early childhood education.
Sam Rhoads, Professor, CENT/ICS, recently traveled to Pittsburgh for a week's training in teaching the Curriculum for the Carnegie Technology Computer Programming Certification.
Bob Vericker, Assistant Professor, AJ, attended the first annual Biometrics Conference in Waikiki sponsored by Windward Community College this past fall. Biometrics is the science of technology using computers to identify people according to unique biological traits, such as fingerprints, facial characteristics, retinal patterns, and behavioral characteristics such as voice.
Frank Fenlon, Counselor, attended the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) annual conference this past fall in Salt Lake City. The theme of the conference was, "Academic Advising: Official Sponsors of Student Success." The conference included over 300 presentations dealing with the theoretical, practical and interactive aspects of academic advising.
Xin Li, Librarian, Jean Maslowski, Counselor, and Jerry Cerny, PCATT Programs and Training Manager, all attended a grant writing workshop presented by the Hawaii Community Foundation this past fall. Developing grant writing skills, gaining knowledge of funding opportunities and developing effective strategies for funding seeking were all covered in the workshop.
COLLEGE SKILLS CENTER
Femar Lee, Instructor, CSC Math, Lianne Nagano, Associate Professor, CSC English, Earl Nakahara, Associate Professor, CSC English, and Cory Takemoto, Instructor, CSC Math, all attended the 2003 Pacific Basin Learning Disabilities Conference in Waikiki this past February. The conference presented tips on more effectively serving students with disabilities.
PACIFIC CENTER FOR ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY TRAINING
Jerry Cerny, PCATT Programs and Training Manager, traveled to Bellevue Community College last November to attend a series of meetings for the Microsoft IT Academy Program. HCC is a Microsoft IT Academy Regional Center offering training and support to high school, 2-year and 4-year Microsoft IT Local Academies in Hawaii. Jerry is the Administrator and "Champion" of the HCC Regional Center.
Dallas Shiroma, Professor, CENT, and Acting Dean Tech 1, and Wayne Lewis, Assistant Professor, PCATT, attended the Cisco Networking Academy Instructor Conference in North Carolina this past February.
This newsletter was organized and published by the HCC Faculty Development Committee. Members: Jess Aki, Jerry Cerny (Co-Editor), Theron Craig, Leon Florendo, Lei Lani Hinds (Co-Editor), Xin Li and Allen Tateishi.