Sunday, May 31, 2009

Assessment Methods in Math

I've been looking for more math & math education blogs to follow, hoping it will spark some creativity on my part for new blog posts here.

I came across
dy/dan. He has some interesting philosophies on teaching. In order to understand some of what he says, I'm going back to the beginning of his blog, Sept 2006, when he was just beginning his third year of teaching.

In 2006, he wrote
this manifesto of sorts about grading. I like some of his ideas, especially about on-going assessment instead of big tests. But I have a problem with this part, here:

More powerfully, the new standard offers students an immediate chance to
demonstrate improvement. Tests no longer have high stakes when any free
moment can be the occasion for re-assessment. After I tutor a student in the
morning, I write up a fast one-question assessment on a piece of scratch paper. I
immediately correct it, re-adjust her grade, and give her the positive feedback
that is the very momentum of student success.

In general, I like the idea of this method, and when I'm finally in a classroom, I may use a modification of this approach.

But I have a small problem with this. I have worked with a student that would seem to do well in this situation. In the past, we have drilled a skill and drilled a skill, and she will seem to master it. But two days later, she won't remember that skill she had worked so hard on. This kind of assessment, immediately after tutoring, would not show whether or not she had mastered the skill; it would not show if she could remember it tomorrow.

Now, this student does not do well with traditional testing, either. Mostly because she needs a lot more repetition than other students, and tests freak her out. I'm not sure what assessment model would work for her. She does eventually learn skills, so perhaps modifying dy/dan's model to include ongoing assessment for her? Maybe that she needs to show me three times that she has mastered the skill?

Part of what I like about his assessment model is that he relies primarily on classwork, not homework. I don't like homework. I didn't like homework as a student, is that going to change suddenly when I'm standing in front of the classroom? Maybe not.

I know that students need repetition of problems and concepts, but is homework the only way to do that? Is it the best way?

Ah, I found a follow up post of his
here, that explains in more detail. By that post, my student would do well. She could come back next week and ask to be retested in the deficient skills.

It is official. I like this method of assessment. I'm bookmarking his pages. I know I won't be able to use this when I'm student-teaching, but when I have my own classroom, I'm going to try it.

Now to dive back into his archives, and look for more gems.

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