This Complete Evidence-Based Practice paper explores the use of exam wrappers in a learning strategies course designed for first-year engineering students in PROGRAM at INSTITUTION. Exam wrappers are most commonly used as tools to facilitate the process of self-evaluation as students reflect on their preparation and performance on a formal assessment, such as a quiz or exam . The learning strategies course accompanying PROGRAM at INSTITUTION includes an innovative, extended use of exam wrappers. Currently in its second iteration, the exam wrapper activity is well-integrated into the course and emphasizes the professional significance of self-evaluation and critical reflection in the learning process. Slight modifications to the exam wrapper activity were made between its first  and second implementations, and the similarities and differences in outcomes as a result of these modifications will be the focus of the current paper.
In the series of exam wrapper assignments, students are asked to complete (1) a reflection detailing what they wanted to happen on their first round of exams, (2) a traditional exam wrapper activity recounting their preparatory behaviors and learning strategies and the results of their exams, and (3) a reflection on what was learned from the experience, and (4) a plan for improvement for each of their STEM courses. This process is repeated following the second round of exams.
One modification of the exam wrapper between its first and second implementation was the introduction of the after-action review terminology. In order to emphasize the students’ professional development as engineers, the experience with exam wrappers was framed as a four-stage after-action review. After-action reviews are used to debrief the process and performance on a training event and include four phases: planning, preparation, execution, and follow-up . The exam wrapper activity was intentionally created to model the structure and process of the after-action reviews utilized in industry with the goal of engaging students with the value of gaining real-world skills.
The current study investigates two primary research questions utilizing a qualitative methodological approach. First, it seeks to determine the impact of the exam wrapper activity on subsequent exam scores for students in the second cohort. Second, it aims to understand how the experience with exam wrappers varied between students in the first cohort and the second cohort. The results of the analysis suggest that qualitative themes related to students’ experiences differed as a result of the structure and framing of the activity from one iteration to the next. A discussion of the results and implications for educators are provided.
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