For those teaching on the quarter system, Winter quarter 2021 is more than half way done. Today I administered an oral midterm assessment in Abstract Algebra. Previously I discussed my struggles with inquiry-based learning in this class because of its low enrollment numbers and I secretly wished for more students. Today I fully *appreciated* the paucity of enrollments. I administered the midterm interviews entirely during one scheduled class period. Compared to the individual oral assessments last quarter when I gave nearly 60 individual interviews throughout an entire week and finished in a zoom coma, this was a pleasant diversion.

Since my first experiment with oral exams in the Spring of 2020, my assessment methods and rubrics are beginning to converge.

#### The Method

One week in advance, students were given complete instructions for the assessment including preparation instructions, the grading rubric, and a selection of questions from which the assessment would be drawn.

Each student had 25 minutes (plus a 5 minute fudge factor) to present three questions, the first question being their choice (20 points) , the second my choice (20 points), and the third was a straightforward permutation computation on elements that I provided during the interview (10 points). The rubric was essentially the same as the one used last quarter.

#### The Questions

For their first presentation, students were allowed to choose any part of question 1 or 2. I would then pick a part from the unselected question for balance. Finally I gave them unique permutations alpha and beta in problem 3 and selected either (a), (b), (c), or (d) for them to compute in real time.

#### Lessons Learned

My thinking was that students would select one of the Theorems in Problem 2 for their first presentation and ignore the rest. Then they would be ready for any of my selections from Problem 1. I expected problem 1(a) to be tackled with brute force but a pattern would emerge to complete the problem and be extended to 1(b). I hoped they would use their previous knowledge for 1(c) and apply that to extend to 1(d). ** I was wrong**. Instead, they minimized computation (either by selecting 1(a) or 1(c) for their first question) and prepared themselves for all three theorems. In many ways, I think that is the preferred outcome.

For some students, the individual interview was the first time they shared their face with me all quarter. It happened as they gave a tour of their work space. How wonderful to finally connect an image with their voice. I occasionally had enough time for pleasantries, chatting about summer plans, encouraging applications to REUs, and getting to know them just a little bit. I think these assessments are helping to keep me sane in my remote teaching and they are a real joy when there are not too many students.

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