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How do students know when they’ve finished?

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The Cloudworks Team
17 June 2008

It’s often hard for a collaborative group of students to decide when they’ve completed their task. They may feel fearful of not having done “enough” or lack the ability to judge themselves. One solution is to provide a clear set of criteria for deciding when the task is completed, so that students can stop when they can see that they’ve reached their objective. But suppose you want students to learn how to do this for themselves? Juan I. Asensio Pérez and colleagues suggest an intermediate strategy: of providing a set of guiding questions which students should be capable of answering as they advance through the task. These are not test questions, but pointers to certain critical aspects of the topic which they would be expected to include in a complete solution. In their example, from a course on computer networks, the task is to trace the historical development of internet protocols, the questions included: “Who was the PhD advisor of Leonard Kleinrock?” and “Who were the users of the UNIX implementation made by the University of California at Berkeley...?” The answers to these two questions are pointers to issues which are considered critical to the task (the structure of the original ARPANET, free worldwide access to UNIX BSD). See pp. 99-101, ‘Decision making about the completion of tasks by using guiding questions’. TELL Pattern Book

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