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Professors' Guide to Getting Good Grades in College    by Lynn F. Jacobs & Jeremy S. Hyman order for
Professors' Guide to Getting Good Grades in College
by Lynn F. Jacobs
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2006 (2006)
Softcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Having two teens who will soon start college, this book was of great interest to me. Both authors know of what they speak - Lynn Jacobs is an associate professor of art history at the University of Arkansas, while Jeremy Hyman has taught there, as well as at MIT, UCLA, and Princeton. They offer readers 'a behind-the-scenes look at all aspects of the grading process', organizing their insights and tips around 'the five "grade-bearing moments" of the academic semester': Start, Class, Exam, Paper, and Last Month.

The authors begin by addressing ten common myths about college grading, and work to demystify the process (were you aware, for example that it's mainly grad students and TA's who do the grading?) They tell us how professors assess students, emphasize that it's episodic in nature and done against a standard, and discuss the recent trend to grade inflation. They cover course selection and what can be gleaned from the first class, and encourage dropping classes that turn out to be a poor fit. They explain why personal lecture notes are critical, and advise how to triage time for test preparation, as well as when to get help from TA's and professor, and how to follow up on missed classes. They emphasize active learning in both class and review time. They talk about how to change an unhelpful attitude to tests, resources to use for exam preparation, and what can be learned from going over graded tests. They advise on how to be effective in carrying out analysis and research for college papers.

Each chapter ends with a review session summary, and includes boxes with tips like 10 Ways to Improve the Clarity of a Paper. The authors suggest either reading the chapters in sequence or focusing in on topics of immediate interest. Though I started reading Professors' Guide to Getting Good Grades in College from the perspective that grades are already overemphasized, it became clear that the advice provided is as much about active learning and getting the most out of the academic experience as about achieving A's. I recommend this guide to you and will be encouraging my own sons to read it before their first college years.

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