Assessment Idea for Calculus I: Near Final Draft

Sorry about the two month hiatus—Dana Ernst sucked me into a great research project about games with finite groups.

I previously wrote about my plan for calculus I. Basically, it is this:

  1. I give the students a list of learning goals. These are much finer than I have done in the past, which means that there are many more of them.
  2. I give students quizzes in class.
  3. For each quiz question, the student solves the problem as best as she can.
  4. Here is the important part: after solving the problem, the student reviews her work and determines which learning goals she has met.
  5. She indicates exactly where she met each learning goal. If she does not claim a learning goal, she does not get credit for the learning goal.

This basic idea has not changed; I have decided to go for this to see how it works. I have made a couple of changes since last time, though:

  1. I change my learning goals (see below for a list).
  2. I am only requiring that they demonstrate mastery of each learning goal four times, rather than the six that I previously had. There just is not enough time to assess that much, considering that I try to give my students at least twice as many attempts as is required. I am able to cut from six to four by scaling down homework: I previously required at least three demonstrations on a quiz and up to three demonstrations on homework, but I have changed this to requiring at least three demonstrations on a quiz and up to one demonstration on homework.
  3. I change my quiz template to include a margin on the left side. This is where students will write their code for each achieved learning goal. They then need to circle exactly where the learning goal is met, and connect that circle to the code. This should make the quizzes easier to grade and easier to read (less messy). I think that I am not going to require that this be done in a different colored pen, either.

I think that is mainly it. I have included drafts of my learning goals and syllabus (sorry for being three weeks late on this, Robert) below. Please see my previous post to get an idea of what students will do with their quizzes.

As always: feedback is welcome.

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13 Responses to “Assessment Idea for Calculus I: Near Final Draft”

  1. Pinky Says:

    I really like your method of using previous work as the assessment, especially since you give them extra chances to get it right. We’re taught in my Ed classes that quizzes should be informal assessment, but it looks like you’ve found an appropriate way around this.
    The margin idea is great! In fourth grade our teacher had a similar idea and it made grading easier for her and going over assignments easier for us.
    I loved my Calc one teachers (took it both in high school and college), but you’re grading system makes me want to go over a third time with you.

  2. Pinky Says:

    Edit: I am downloading your sheets as an idea sheet for when I teach.

  3. Dana Ernst Says:

    Good stuff. And thanks for joining us on the research project. Now I’m just trying to keep up with you!

  4. dcclark Says:

    Nice. I love the phrase “X cannot hurt your grade, at worst it won’t help your grade.” That succinctly sums up what I spent a lot of time writing last year.

    I admit to skimming, but the first thing which comes to mind — will students have the list of objectives available to them on any given assessment? That’s deliberately ambiguous… I mean, when they want to tag an objective, will they have to pull out a 3 page list of objectives and look it up? And/or, will you provide a short list of “likely” objectives on the assessment?

    • bretbenesh Says:

      I would be seriously impressive if any reader did anything other than “skimming.”

      My plan is for the students to have the Learning Goals Checklist (embedded above) with them when doing the quiz. I am going to encourage them to keep track both of what they have done and of what learning goals are “active” (I am going to suggest a highlighter).

      This makes the task possible (I do NOT expect them to memorize the list) and nice for us (I am going to ask that they stop tagging stuff they have already done four times, so this will result in less grading).

      So they will have to sort through a huge list, although it is mercifully only two pages, not three šŸ™‚

  5. Joss Ives Says:

    Although I suspect that most students will approach the process of linking standards to the parts of their quiz solutions, I am curious how many will try a “throw shit at the wall” approach. Or to flip it around the other way, how you might be able to convince them that the thoughtful approach is the right way such that you don’t have to stare at a ton of useless connecting lines.

    • bretbenesh Says:

      This is a great point. Hmm…I have two things that could help:

      1. I am not going to give them a ton of time most days. I am thinking that they will only have about 10 minutes per problem. It would be difficult to do the problem, and then randomly throw a bunch of “tags” on there (of course, I might need to give them more time, since it may also be difficult to put the correct tags there in only 10 minutes per problem).
      2. What do you think of me putting a disclaimer in the syllabus? “Tagging attempts that try to ‘game’ the system risk not being considered at all.”

      I don’t think I like putting it in the syllabus. On the other hand, I do have David Clark’s “you have to convince _me_ that you understand it” clause to fall back on. If they just throw a bunch of stuff at me, I can just say that I am unconvinced.

      Do you have any ideas?

      • Joss Ives Says:

        I think something along the lines of (adjust for personal tone) “You have to convince _me_ that you understand the relationship between your work and the relevant standards. Obviously including a large number of unrelated standards will be quite unconvincing overall”

      • bretbenesh Says:

        I like it, and I have added it to my syllabus. Thanks for helping me stay ahead on this one.

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