I regularly teach a course for future elementary education majors. The point of the class is for the students to be able to do things like explain why you “invert and multiply” when you want to divide fractions. This involves defining division (which, itself, requires two definitions—measurement division and partitive division are conceptually different), determining the answer using the definition, and justifying why the “invert and multiply” algorithm is guaranteed to give the same answer. At this stage, I simply tweak the course from semester to semester. This semester, though, I am making a major change in how I will assess the students.

Since this class is for future teachers, it makes sense to assess them teaching ideas. So there are three main ways of assessing the students this semester:

- The students will have two examinations. Part of each examination will be standard (a take-home portion and an in-class portion), but there will also be an oral part of the examination. The oral portion will require students to explain why portions of the standard arithmetic algorithms work the way they do.
I only have 31 students in this class (I have two sections), so hopefully this will be doable. Moreover, I am going to distribute the in-class portion of the exams over a period of weeks: many classes will have a 5 minute quiz that will actually be a portion of the midterm.

- The students will regularly be presenting on the standard algorithms in class. This is only for feedback, and not for a grade. I am hoping that the audience will listen more skeptically to another student than they listen to me.
- The students will be creating short screencasts explaining each of the standard algorithms (Thanks to Andy Rundquist for this idea). Students will be given feedback throughout the semester on how to improve their screencasts, but they will create a final portfolio blog that contains all of their (hopefully improved) screencasts for the semester. This portfolio blog will be graded.

I will keep you posted. I welcome any ideas on how to improve this.

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Tags: Assessment for learning, Elementary Education, Evaluation, Formative Assessment, Grading, Math 121, SBF, SBG

This entry was posted on January 17, 2012 at 6:44 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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January 17, 2012 at 7:54 pm |

This sounds very cool, Bret. I’m really interested in how the in-class presentations go, especially considering they’re for feedback only. You seem to have done a great job in the past of motivating students to take those opportunities seriously, so I imagine things will go well here too. Thanks for the shout-out, too! -Andy

January 17, 2012 at 8:25 pm |

Andy,

If you keep giving me interesting ideas, I’ll keep giving you shout-outs.

Deal?

Bret

January 18, 2012 at 4:05 am |

Hi Bret,

What’s your plan for the oral portion of the exam? Will they be given their topic or set of topics ahead of time?

January 18, 2012 at 12:43 pm |

Hi Joss,

They will be given a set of problems, and expected to explain parts of each problem during the oral exam. For instance, students will be expected to know how to explain why the standard addition algorithm gives the correct answer to additions problems, but I might only ask them how “carrying” fits in to the definition.

So they will have a couple questions like that, but they will definitely know what is coming (and we will have spent a good amount of time on each of them). Bret