- 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.
- I give students quizzes in class.
- For each quiz question, the student solves the problem as best as she can.
- Here is the important part: after solving the problem, the student reviews her work and determines which learning goals she has met.
- 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.
Basically, the students are forced to reflect on what they did in order to get credit for their work.
I just completed my midterm grades, and I would like to report on them. But I will first summarize where we are and describe my assessment of the course prior to seeing the grades.
We just finished off differential calculus. We will cover all of integral calculus in the next 2.5 weeks (I accelerate the schedule), and then we will move on to the review-and-quiz portion of the semester (we have quizzes for the entire class on Tuesdays and Fridays, and we review for the quizzes on Mondays and Wednesdays).
I have been simply thrilled with both sections of Calculus I. They discuss ideas, ask questions, and generally are willing to try whatever I throw at them. This has been a really fun semester. In contrast, I have heard that the other Calculus I classes have been struggling.
The good news is that my midterm grades reflect this. There are only three students who are presently in danger of getting below a C, assuming students continue on their current paces (one drawback to this grading system is that literally every student technically has an F right now, due to the fact that none of them have demonstrated any ability to work with integrals. But this is simply because they haven’t had a chance yet. But my original point for this parenthetical statement is that any student who starts slacking off is in danger of failing).
I am pleased and relieved about this. I certainly had considered that having the students claim credit for relevant learning goals could have been a disaster, but this not the case; the students have had minimal trouble with this.
One reason why they may not have had trouble is that I have been specifically referencing learning goals when they come up in class and then posting the slides to the CMS so that students can find where each learning goal is introduced. I also have been highlighting the relevant learning goals in the daily assignments (Example: “For Wednesday: We will discuss Learning Goals C4 and B9. Read 2.4 and 2.8. You should be able to do Preliminary Exercises 1 and 2 of 2.4, Exercises 63 and 65 of 2.4, and Preliminary Exercise 1 of 2.8.”).
So I am very happy and relieved at how the first half of the semester has gone. I really think that the focus on the learning goals has helped students learn how to talk about calculus. I will keep you all posted.