Cram

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Do students cram for your exams? More pointedly, in the bygone days when you were a student, did you ever cram for an exam? Maybe the answers depend on how cramming is defined. How about this definition from a 1968 study: cramming is “a period of neglect of study followed by a concentrated burst of studying immediately before an exam.” (Find this definition on p. 227 in the arti- cle referenced below.) It will probably not shock any instruc- tor to learn that research does document that students still do cram. What may be a bit surprising is the percentage of stu- dents who do: somewhere between 25 percent and 50 percent, depending on the study. In the research reported in this arti- cle, approximately 45 percent of students were on the agree side of a scale measur- ing the extent of cramming. However, there is one unexpected and unfortunate surprise: cramming as a study strategy is effective, at least by some crite- ria. This article’s review of the literature section lists five different studies conduct- ed between 1968 and 2001—all of which found that cramming did not affect course grades negatively. This study did find more mixed results. If students agreed that they used cramming “for most of my courses,” those students tended to have lower GPAs, with the converse also being true. However, this study looked at a par- ticular course, Principles of Marketing, and for that course “the course grade is not significantly related to the degree of cramming reportedly used in the course.” (p. 233) The problem with cramming has to do with retention and it is here that previous research, including this study, offers con- clusive results. When students cram, the information is stored in short-term mem- ory and information stored there doesn’t stay there long. The results reported in this study illustrate this finding in a very graphic way. A student in the high-cram- ming category with a course grade of 85 would, at 150 weeks after the course (based on predictions...
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