## SBG thoughts after AAPT

I was a part of a Standards-Based Grading workshop and an SBG panel at the American Association of Physics Teachers conference recently. My head nearly exploded with some new ideas for my Sound and Music course (see previous thoughts on that here and here).

## Josh Gates coarse-grained standards

Josh teaches at the high school level and does some really cool things with SBG. Read all about it at his blog. He shared with me how he does a small number of deep/rich standards. Here’s a great visual of one of his standards:

This is how Josh communicates with his students about a single standard

When Josh gives his students an assessment (usually an in-class quiz), he gives them feedback using a form with that graph on it. He makes notations on both the core skills and proficiency indicators and then gives an overall (D-, D, P-, or P) where “D” stands for developing and “P” stands for proficient.

I like his approach a lot, and I think I want to borrow it a little as I think about a small number of over-arching standards for my sound and music course. So what might that look like? Here’s a stab for one of the standards I posted earlier:

• I can describe the wave nature of sound
• CORE SKILLS
• Define a wave
• Describe how waves propagate
• Compare and contrast waves with particles
• Describe interference
• Explain wavelength, frequency, and amplitude
• PROFICIENCY INDICATORS
• Measure the speed of sound
• Calculate Doppler shifts
• Calculate frequency differences from beats
• Predict the motion of a particle experiencing a wave

Hmm, I’m not really happy with that. I think Josh and I are using the proficiency indicators differently. I was thinking of applications to demonstrate knowledge, where his are more combinations of the core skills. Maybe that’s similar.

What’s interesting about slapping that down off the top of my head, is it makes me realize just how broad that standard is. I think this line of thinking/working should help me find good size standards that are still a small number. Then I can start thinking about appropriate assessments.

Note, it looks like my class might get bumped up to 60 people (3 lab sections) so my plans for videos and oral assessments might have to get tweaked, or in the worst case, tossed. We’ll see.

• I think that standard is too broad, you should split it at ____
• Don’t you think that students would rather get 1, 2, 3, 4 instead of D-, D, P-, P?
• I really like D-, D, P-, P, how would you turn that into a grade?
• Josh seems so cool, why can’t he have your job?

Professor of physics at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN
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### 5 Responses to SBG thoughts after AAPT

1. jg says:

Well, #4, obviously. 🙂 Looks like a pretty good standard to me, depending on the depth of the applications, etc., but I totally agree that applications are great for proficiency indicators. I hadn’t thought before about how this would affect your screencasts, but I’m guessing that it’d make them longer – bug or feature? More opportunity for synthesis, maybe.

• Andy "SuperFly" Rundquist says:

I’m really leaning toward screencasts as student-initiated re-assessments. Then they can try to put together a story that really demonstrates proficiency. I’d want them to really tackle a unified whole, though, not just talk me through all the cores or all the proficiency indicators, for that matter.

2. I like Josh’s approach better than what I do (which is break out a learning objective (standards) for each skill like “I can draw a FBD”). I’m guessing it would cut WAAAAAY down on the number of learning objectives I have. I wonder if it cuts down on grading time as well? If you try it out let us know how it works for you Andy. I also wonder if Josh’s approach gives students a better understanding of how the different pieces of physics connect.

• Andy "SuperFly" Rundquist says:

I’m not sure about the grading. For each standard, Josh has a bunch of things to look at before making the grade call. Whereas if you have a bunch of small standards, each one is quick to grade, I would think.

3. Joss Ives says:

Even if not implemented, Josh’s method seems like a really good exercise to help one do a really good job of grouping standards and fine-tuning granularity. Andy, have you decided to use this method for your Sound and Music course?