Sunday, May 6, 2018

“You got this”

There’s nothing wrong about trying to instill in college students a non-panicky attitude toward final exams. But there is, I believe, something wrong about the reassurance that’s become ubiquitous before finals: “You got this.”

“You got this” presents an exam as a measure not of knowledge but of trust in one’s ability. The reassurance is glib and condescending, and it’s likely to feed inflated self-confidence. Yeah, I got this, says every victim of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Better than empty reassurance: practical advice. Many years ago I worked out such advice for my students, and I later wrote it up in a post: How to do well on a final exam. My students tended to do exceedingly well on final exams. But for anyone intent on going in the other direction: How to do horribly on a final exam.

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