Journal on Empowering Teaching Excellence


Poor results on the first exam in a course can be a shock to freshmen college students who found great success in high school. The experience can be demoralizing and put students in the mindset that academic success is out of reach. To convince such students that not only is academic success possible but readily achievable, I presented a 25-minute mini-lecture on learning and studying in two large-enrollment general chemistry courses (total N = 289) based on author Dr. Saundra McGuire’s work. The mini-lecture discussed human learning and practical study tools. The purposes of the mini-lecture were to: 1) examine how well students could be convinced to critically assess their learning and study habits; and 2) motivate students to believe academic success is possible. I assessed the two goals via an anonymous survey utilizing Likert scale questions and essay questions. A majority (74%) of survey respondents who reported they watched the mini-lecture (N = 158) believed the mini-lecture assisted reflection on their study habits. Sixty-six percent of respondents reported changing their study habits. However, 38% of students who reported changing their study habits eventually reverted. When allowed to provide comments about the experience, students gave generally positive responses specifically citing how the mini-lecture prompted self-reflection and how the mini-lecture demonstrated the instructor cared about student success.