November 24 Day 261: Individual Orals

Next week will be the final rung in the oral-assessment-scaffold in advance of the planned final for Calculus II. Teaching a fully remote course, I decided to continue with an oral final assessment as I did last Spring. Making this decision in advance and heeding my previous students’ recommendations, I have scaffolded building oral assessment skills all quarter long.

The first oral assessment was a group affair of three to four students. The grading scheme encouraged teams to prepare together, to pay attention during the interview, and to assist when necessary. If team members could identify errors that then got corrected by the presenter, the penalty was small. Otherwise team members could make the correction for a more substantial penalty.

The second oral assessment was similar but smaller with groups of two to three. Using the same grading rubric, it was more intimate but functioned similarly to the first. The greatest benefit was genuine human interaction, which had been lacking despite my best efforts.

The week after Thanksgiving will be the third oral assessment. This time it is an individual affair. The problems and rubric were released tonight. And my calendar is rapidly filling up with 15 minute appointments. (Note: has been a life saver for what could easily be a scheduling nightmare.) The students have been encouraged to prepare together but they are responsible to no one except themself. I have learned to be explicit with my expectations—including preparations and readiness to engage in the limited time we have together.

The process and rubric leave no doubt as to what they will be assessed on. This individual rubric is more prescriptive and less holistic than ones from the past.

After completing the interviews for this assessment, I will have a weekend to plan the final, adapting what I learn from the students’ successes and self-reflections. Any help that you can offer would be appreciated. If you have any favorite “synthetic questions” from Calculus II that you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you.

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.

2 thoughts on “November 24 Day 261: Individual Orals

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