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Advantages of giving away answers

October 11, 2008

I have been giving my students the answers to the textbook activities by putting them in PowerPoint and covering some in class.  I also put the PowerPoint files, usually in pdf format, on our Learning Management System for the students to access and review.  The students seem to appreciate it and even follow up when I get behind in putting them on the system. 

I see several advantages to this.  First, I don’t feel compelled to cover exercises that are important but will not be improved by going over them in class.  Second, I can focus on exercises that are important in class and leave them to finish the others on their own.  Furthermore, they have the correct answers unless I make a mistake and don’t have to rely on memory or notes, which sometimes get lost.  Most importantly for me is that I can spend more time in class on content and activities that I think contribute to learning as much as if not more than going over exercises in class especially since students don’t always come to class with all the exercises done in advance. Also students can work closer to their own pace.

To put this in a little larger context.  Our program is a skills based reading and writing program because the state has set certain skill criteria for our students to achieve in order to study in our college.    The exercises seem to lead to success for many students, and the students who succeed without them seem to make use of different elements in the classes than the exercises or perhaps in the surrounding culture. 

To reiterate, I feel freed by giving the students answers to the exercises in the textbooks and additional exercises to do more and different learning activities.  That freedom comes from giving the answers away and perhaps some of my power. Seems like a good trade off.

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