Ten Trees a Day: How learning science and a story of multilingual buffalo help students learn syntax


  • Lynn Santelmann




syntax, learning science, formative feedback, tree-drawing, skill learning


This paper describes an activity designed to help students improve skills in drawing syntax tree structures without significantly increasing instructor grading time. In this formative exercise, students draw ten trees prior to each class period, correct their own work, and reflect on their mistakes. This assignment incorporates many practices that research on learning suggests are essential for understanding and retention of material. In addition, this exercise incorporates some best practices on effective feedback. The activity works best when students understand the science behind it, so discussion of the pedagogical reasons for the exercise is essential. Further, overt discussion of how to learn helps students develop effective skills for learning linguistics. Self-correct homework assignments like this can be applied to many courses that involve learning skills or terminology.




How to Cite

Santelmann, Lynn. 2021. “Ten Trees a Day: How Learning Science and a Story of Multilingual Buffalo Help Students Learn Syntax”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 6 (2): 5110. https://doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v6i2.5110.