My last post talked about a way to have daily quizzes in my Standards-Based Grading (SBG) optics course. It (and the comments) got me thinking about how to do it even better and I think I’m closing in on a better plan.
The main idea is to have daily quizzes that are problems randomly selected from the previous day’s work. It reduces the amount of homework I have to grade, and tackles the cheating problem since it’s now a no-notes quiz. I liked it a lot in my fall class and I definitely want to keep those strengths. My suggestion was six problems per day that would act as the only contexts for any future assessments (quizzes, screencasts, oral exams, and office visits). One commenter noted that might be too much to ask the students to absorb from Tuesday to Thursday. Also, I wasn’t too happy about the double quiz I suggested on Tuesdays (one for the previous Thursday material and one to act as a re-assessment of week-old information). So, here’s my new thinking:
- Assign 3 problems per night
- Have them be substantial, covering various aspects of what we talk about in class.
- Each day do a quiz on a randomly selected problem from the previous 6 problems (three each from the last two days of new material).
- Have the students maintain a portfolio of all the problems so that they can act as context for all future assessments
Things I like about this:
- Finding 3 solid problems sounds much more fruitful (and easy for me) than finding six every day.
- I really like the portfolio idea. Want to come improve your standard score? Bring in your portfolio and I’ll randomly ask about one of those three problems. For each of the standards the students will (hopefully) be encouraged to really comprehend the issues around the three problems, especially given that they and I will be encouraged to “turn them inside out” for every assessment.
- Before every quiz they should be touching up six problems in their portfolio. Admittedly if the quiz is on one they’re not ready for, they get a crappy grade but they can redo it via screencast, office visit, . . .
- Something we’ll go over today might show up next time or the time after that, allowing for some cycling (we will likely discuss the context of the quiz beforehand and often the details of the quiz afterwards, especially if it seems people are unsure how to approach the problem).
- Three problems times ~25 standards is a workable number of problems that the students need to master (especially considering that they are in groups of three with common ideas). Certainly it’s easier than six times 25.
Things I’m not sure about:
- The students “only” have to know how to do three problems per day. Master those, and they’re guaranteed an A. I get student evals sometimes that say I need to do some sort of high stakes exam to make sure they really know it. I’ve tended not to heed such advice, but this has me thinking about that again.
- There’s a chance that a standard might not ever be quizzed (25% chance, I guess). That means that they’ll need to submit something on their own. I guess I could use my old “one week rule” (here’s a post back when I called it the two week rule) or something. I could also weight the random selections differently to reduce that 25% to, I don’t know, 10% or something.
- Hopefully the notion of keeping up a solid portfolio will lower the barrier to having them submit something.
- If I had the quiz be on the last 9 problems, there’s an even greater chance that a standard doesn’t ever get quizzed (29.6%)
- The days could devolve into “how do we do these three problems” instead of active learning around the content.
- Students might want to do their own problems for the oral exams (that’s how I’ve tended to do it) instead of just coming with their portfolio ready.
- A compromise could be that I’ll tell them which standard they’re going to be reassessed on and they can polish up those three problems, of which I’ll randomly select one to grill them on.
- Another approach could be “bring your whole portfolio to the oral exam and I’ll randomly select anything in there.” I think that would really drive home the notion of keeping up a good portfolio but they might rebel.
So that’s where I’m at (for today 🙂 Your thoughts? Here’s some starters for you:
- I think 3 is too many/few and that instead you should subtract/add x and here’s why…
- I’ve taught with a portfolio approach before and here’s where I think your system is going to fail . . . (this is a cue for my friend Bret to weigh in)
- You definitely should also have assessments that do completely different problems and here’s why . . .
- How would you teach the students to “turn a problem inside out?”
- Here’s how I’d solve the 25%-that-won’t-get-quizzed problem . . .
- I think for the oral exams you should limit what they’ll need to bone up on and here’s why . . .
- I think for the oral exams you should make everything on the table and here’s why…
- Why not have every quiz be a random selection from anything in the portfolio?
- Below is a histogram of running 1000 semesters and finding how many problems would never get quizzed using this approach. The average is just a little over the 25% that I get with my approach above