Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

A Self-Managed Active Learning Model for Minority Students: Developing Innovative Insights into Standardized Tests

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

A Self-Managed Active Learning Model for Minority Students: Developing Innovative Insights into Standardized Tests

Article excerpt

A Self-Managed Active Learning Model for Minority Students: Developing. Innovative Insights Into Standardized Tests

Several intervention programs have indicated that minority students sometimes lack the basic knowledge on actual procedures and policies related to standardized exams such as the GRE (General), GRE (Subject) MCAT DAT, OAT, ACT, VCAT, and BAT. Minority students are usually underexposed to the actual test design, and in some cases unaware of the fact that basic information on the actual test format is really important.

Students have also exhibited unfamiliarity with types of reasoning used on these tests, types of problems given on such tests, lack of understanding of how scientific content or knowledge is utilized to construct standardized integrated problems, and, above all, their lack of skill-based learning. Most associations and services which give standardized tests, such as the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), Educational Testing Service (ETS), the Psychological Corporation, and the American Dental Association (ADA), provide students with basic manuals and pamphlets describing standardized tests.

These materials are available at no charge. These manuals, booklets, and pamphlets need to be studied, reviewed, analyzed and included in any standardized test preparation model to master the standardized test structure.

Minority students can benefit when they utilize actual resources released by several associations and then work in study groups to enhance critical thinking and also to familiarize themselves with the "actual mechanics" of each test. Self-managed, active learning provides invaluable support service for students who are marginally at risk and have low self-confidence or an unrealistic self-appraisal of their level of preparation.

In an active, self-managed learning model, students work in groups of two or three to assess and evaluate their actual weaknesses and skills deficiencies. Such students develop independent thinking skills and work by the process of challenging and learning with their peers. Cooperative learning provides each group with several options to prepare for different parts of the standardized test.

Study skills such as time management, information management, and conceptualization using concept maps provide the basic tools to "discover" each standardized test. Weekly meetings, held in small groups with proper diagnostic testing, provide a healthy and positive reinforcement as the academic year goes by.

A basic statistical research study was carried out by the Betz Scientific Research Division to validate and verify student performances on MCAT diagnostic tests. The study identified the skills and content deficiencies of minority students from several regions of the U.S. (approximately four programs were included in the study). Diagnostic instruments (MCAT simulators) were correlated with actual student weaknesses to understand cognitive factors and how "self-managed active learning" provided positive reinforcement.

Intervention Programs

From a large bank of undergraduate populations, underrepresented minority students with deficient skills were chosen for this academic analysis. Students were given Betz diagnostic tests before and after active learning interventions. …

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