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This is a hypothetical question, as I am not currently in a teaching position :)

I am currently making flash cards for Japanese on Quizlet, a flash card service (website & app). The flash cards are for vocabulary, grammar, and additional notes that I have made for edge cases that would be expounded upon in later courses.

Personally, if an instructor had given me the material I am currently working on at the start of the semester, I would have used it to my advantage throughout the course, and it would have saved me about 8 hours of preparing the material myself. Yet, I have a feeling that it could be detrimental to some students, especially in particular subjects. That said, I see no problem in the case of foreign language courses, where the most important thing is active application of what was learned - you have to study vocabulary and grammar before you can use it in class, thus giving students a set of flash cards for such topics would not influence their application of the language.

I am wondering: were I in the position of instructor for the course, would it be pedagogically detrimental, or even inappropriate, for me to make such resources and give them to students? Would it depend on the time of the semester when I gave them the resources (e.g. would it be best to give them what I prepared only after all the material has been covered)? Would it depend on the subject?

  • Not enough for an answer, but I think it depends on who you ask: some faculty I've met go out of their way to help students with additional resources (like the one you described), etc., while others, like me, think these additional resources are too hand-hold-y. – Mad Jack Apr 25 '16 at 1:21
  • Preparing your own study aids can help you in understanding, learning, and memorizing the material. However, for beginning language students, I could see flash cards (for instance) being helpful, because there's so much to learn. – mkennedy Apr 25 '16 at 2:09
  • @MadJack Even in upper-level courses, I personally don't think it would be hand-holding. Yes, you are giving students material they could make on their own. But you give them a book, which has all of the same information (from which they are making materials in the first place) - thus, would it be detrimental to the student to have a condensed version that they could immediately use? Of course it depends on the student. Some will take advantage of the resources, some will use it as an excuse not to fully learn the material. This is why I asked the question :) – Chris Cirefice Apr 25 '16 at 2:11
  • If you intend to teach more than one round, try it out. Get experience. Find what works. Good teaching, like any other skill, depends on lots of rounds of optimisation. – Captain Emacs May 11 '16 at 9:01
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It sounds helpful, not detrimental. NB, whatever materials you curate and provide will never be "complete" by any objective standard. Consider a textbook: it may be written to address a particular course design, and focus on the main topics relevant to that course, but it cannot make other study resources useless.

The major factor here is how much work you want to put into creating those resources, not what their easy availability would do to impressionable students.

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