The idea is to get the students to focus all their energies on learning. Here's how it works: I reproduce an old exam, slap a cover page on it, and tell the students that they have a week or so to do the whole thing. It's worth 5% of their class mark. (In my class anyway. Other teachers handle the marks differently.) They're allowed to get help from each other, other students in other classes, me, other teachers in the building as often as they like. They can even submit it early, ask me to review it and check if there are any errors. If there are they can redo the work until it's perfect. Here are the Assignment Conditions from the cover page:
» You Must Get 100%
»You must solve all questions perfectly showing all work; even for multiple choice questions.
»You may get help from the teacher as often and as much as you like.
»All work must be presented clearly, neatly and easy to read.
»Anything less than EXCELLENCE is unacceptable!
Remember, luck has nothing to do with it. It's all about doing your best!
He calls this Go for Gold! Here's the part I really like:
There are only two possible marks for this assignment: Excellent! (100%) or Unacceptable (0%).
I used to have a slightly tongue in cheek homemade poster on the wall of my classroom that said "Perfection is our goal. Excellence will be tolerated." I really like the idea of there only being two possible outcomes - excellent or unacceptable. I know it may be unrealistic to expect that all the time (due to time constraints on our part), but I think for a "reviewing for finals" assignment like this, it's an especially good idea.