As part of Cengage Learning’s Student Case Study program, we asked our college student audience: “What tools do you wish were available to help you do better on your midterms?”

Though some of their answers (such as a “copy of the test”) may not be feasible or advisable, and others (“osmosis”) may not even be humanly possible, many of their suggestions were highly practical and relatively easy for many instructors to implement. You may already offer your students one (or several) of these tools. But if not, consider whether any of these might help your students or be beneficial to their success in your courses.

  • “Professor lecture objectives or PowerPoint slides, etc.”
  • “Review sheets from instructors”
  • “Interactive quizzes to help me prep for the midterms”
  • “Recording devices that are simple and easy to use to help record class lectures”
  • “More online textbooks”
  • “Flashcards and quizzes for each chapter to supplement an online book or print textbook”

Did the list give you any ideas? If so, we have a few tips that can help you bring some of these students’ ideas into your classroom:

  • Create powerful, clear, and easy-to-follow presentations using the lecture aids that are most appropriate to your teaching style and methods. Include an outline of what you plan to cover. Consider distributing printouts of the slides as handouts, or upload the outline to your class website or LMS; the outline provides a handy way for students to follow along with your lecture and take notes as they listen.
  • Provide students with podcasts or video lectures that they can use for review after the class session. (If you feel that this might discourage your students from attending class sessions, then think about how else you might use audio or video as course material that students can use for review purposes.)
  • Include learning objectives on your class syllabus. If you clearly outline your goals, objectives, and expectations on this important document, students can use it as a tool to focus and inform their efforts in your course. (For writing tips, read Jennifer Hurd, Ed.D.’s post on the elements of a well-written syllabus.)
  • Encourage effective note-taking practices. By learning how to take good class notes, students will learn how to hone in on the key points you’re covering in your lectures. In addition, they’ll stay more engaged in class… and, they’ll walk away with a resource that will help them study for their tests!
  • Ensure that students know of their textbook options. If both a print and e-book option are available, provide that information in your syllabus or on your course website.
  • Support student learning with online study tools. You can develop online quizzes that can support student learning. For Cengage Learning texts, students can visit to find additional resources that can help them succeed. Many of our books are supported by a wealth of resources, including free companion sites.

What are your strategies for supporting students’ success on tests? How have your students benefited from your strategies? Share your experiences in the comments below!