October 9 Day 215: One Down….

Today I finished the last eleven of the seventeen interviews, completing the first oral assessment in Calculus II. Spread out between 9 am and 6 pm, you might think it would make me feel exhausted. To the contrary, I found it exhilarating.

More lessons moving forward:

  • For future group assessments, I must make some time during class to get groups working together at the start. It was too much of a burden to coordinate with people they have never met and to find practice time together outside of scheduled class time. Especially for people working part- to full- time.
  • It turns out that 15 minutes per group with a five minute break between was not enough time. If a group was on top of everything—from technology to group dynamics—things flowed well. But as a first experience with a remote oral assessment, there were bugs to be worked out. (It turns out that even if you send explicit instructions in an email, not all of it gets read or internalized.)
  • Students trying to write on a shared whiteboard with a mouse take twice as long as students with styluses on a touch screen or students writing with paper and pencil while using a cell phone as a document cam. Encourage folks to eschew the mouse in favor of other methods. Or be willing to act as scribe for those with the mouse-only option.

With about 80% of the after-assessment surveys complete, only 12 % of the respondents reported spending less time or effort preparing for the oral exam than for a traditional pen and paper quiz. Sixty percent reported that they worked together well or extremely well (with only 4% replying that their group worked poorly.)

Once all the survey’s are in, I will read the comments more closely to see what the students perceive as the advantages/disadvantages of an oral group assessment. And I will consider their suggestions for improving the experience in the next round of oral assessments. I expect to share what I find out here, of course.

The whole exercise allowed for students to connect with each other and for me to connect with them more directly. Unlike breakout rooms, were I can visit only a handful of groups, the assessment interviews allowed me to talk with each student from my class in a more intimate environment. Not everyone showed their faces, but many of them did. While I can’t yet recognize my students should I walk past them, with a few more experiences like this, it might be possible.

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

3 thoughts on “October 9 Day 215: One Down….

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