Weekly Teaching Note
Feb 15 2012
Focused Listing

Have you ever wondered, at the end of a class session, if your students are leaving class with a real grasp of the day’s content? 

The Focused Listing activity from Classroom Assessment Techniques (2nd edition) can help with this dilemma.  Preparation and follow-up for a Focused Listing activity is minimal, and the potential payoff is big: you quickly learn what the students recall from the class, and you have an opportunity to correct popular misconceptions and areas of confusion. 
First, run through the activity yourself:
1)    Set a limit for the number of items to record (5-10) or the amount of time allotted (3-5 minutes) to create the list.
2)    Write down the main ideas from the class session. Completing the Focused Listing yourself will allow you to confirm whether the main ideas of the day’s class are in fact the most important points, and creates an answer key you can use when reviewing student responses.
3)    Check that your limits are realistic, and revise if necessary. Keep in mind that your students may identify a smaller number of concepts or require extra time because they are novices with the material. 
At the end of a class session, have the students complete the Focused Listing activity. Collect their anonymous responses and review the answers by sorting them into “on target” or “still confused” piles to determine how well students are recalling the main points.
At the beginning of the next class session, review your findings with the students.  List the main ideas from the previous class as you had listed them previously, and be sure to include some of the ideas students provided that were not on your list, but were still relevant. When students see their work included in the summary, it’s a powerful motivator! If there are one or two concepts that very few students identified, take a minute or two to review them.
The Focused Listing activity can help students in several ways:
  • Paying attention
  • Concentration
  • Memory skills
  • Listening skills
  • Note taking skills
  • Study skills
  • Factual recall of the course
  • Angelo, T. A., & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers (2 ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
To follow up on any of these ideas, please contact me at fglazer@nyit.edu. This Weekly Teaching Note was adapted from a contribution to the Teaching and Learning Writing Consortium sponsored by Western Kentucky University.
David Sacks
Faculty/Instructional Consultant
University of Kentucky

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