Exam wrappers, or cognitive wrappers, are questions that you can add to your exam, your homework, or your guided notes that prompt students to reflect on their thinking and learning strategies. This helps develop students’ metacognition – or their ability to think about and evaluate their learning strategies. In essence, it helps them learn how to learn.
You can turn your exam into a learning experience by adding questions such as:
- What grade do you predict you will get on this exam?
- How much time did you spend studying for this exam?
- What learning and study strategies did you use to prepare for this exam?
This sample math exam wrapper (pdf) from CMU has some other example questions. You might also want to add some content-specific questions. See more examples on the CMU site below.
After the exam or homework, you can then use their responses to these wrapper questions as a point of discussion when you either speak with your whole class or meet with students during office hours. It is recommended that you meet with students who do poorly on your first exam, especially those who indicated they spent a lot of time studying but still scored poorly. This can make a big difference in their performance and help them turn it around for the next exam. See the How can I help struggling students? page for more info.
- The Exam Wrappers page at CMU has some example exam wrapper questions for physics, biology, chemistry, and math
- Turn Testing Into Learning: Sample Lesson on Exam Wrappers
- Cognitive Wrappers: Using Metacognition and Reflection to Improve Learning
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