Case Study – Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism and Memory / Recall Difficulties

The following case study introduces strategies for helping students improve their memory skills when preparing for seminars and examinations. Source: Whyatt, G. Using cue-cards to improve student preparation for seminars and exams. Business School, Oxford Brookes University.

Activity: At the beginning of each seminar, students (who have signed up for the scheme) are allowed to submit a cue-card on which they have summarised the reading for that week. These cards are returned to the students at the beginning of the exam.

Group: Students on Retail Management module

Aim: To improve student preparation and reading prior to seminars, and to aid exam revision. It is also hoped that the scheme will help to improve attendance.

Context / Background: It was very apparent that students were not preparing for seminars. The quality of debate in seminars was very poor, leading to a downward spiral of preparation. Even the most enthusiastic students began to feel that it was not worth taking time to prepare.

Example: Retail Management, is an advanced module, intending to develop understanding of the nature of retail resource management and utilisation within both a strategic and operational context.

Students submit a cue card with information on a particular topic during each seminar. At the end of the module, these are then handed back to the students at the beginning of the exam. The cue card scheme is voluntary, but for students who sign up, 10% of their marks for the module are made up of the number of cue cards submitted (the percentage allocated to the exam part of the assessment is reduced accordingly – from 50% to 40%), for example if a student hands in half the possible number of cards, he/she will receive 5% rather than 10%.

For those students not participating in the voluntary cue card system the assessment weighting is: Examination 50%, Coursework 50%

Results / Feedback: The cue-card system helped to improve the preparations for seminars and lead to better discussions. It also helped to raise the awareness of current issues and the different text books available.

The module had good attendance and the system receives positive feedback from students, who commented that the cue-card system had helped to improve their confidence, and had been extremely helpful to those who suffer from exam nerves, or for whom English is not their first language.

Comments: In addition to understanding the frameworks and concepts taught on the module, students are expected to demonstrate knowledge of current activity in the retail sector. Cue cards enable students to record this activity as they hear of it from the media. Cue cards also enable staff to expect a higher level of discussion and analysis in exam answers than might otherwise be expected. Simple regurgitation of cue card records is not rewarded. Care must be taken when writing exam questions to take this into account.

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