Monday, November 30, 2009

A test with a twist

I've decided to try something new this semester for my Calc I final.

As in semesters past, the final exam will be a cumulative take-home exam, which leaves me having to do something with the class during the scheduled final exam time (the university mandates that the class meet to do something during this time, even if there is no exam).

Instead of having a review session, I'm going to try out some sort of collaborative component to the exam itself, offering the students a low-stakes place in which to try to put their heads together to solve some trickier extra credit problems.

I'm not sure exactly what it'll look like, but I think I'm going to pitch four or five problems to them and let people work together in whatever way they'd like to to try to find a solution.

We'll see how it goes.

Meanwhile, in the 280 we're spending most of our remaining time together polishing the textbook. Today all four revised chapters got another re-reading, and I'll spend much of tomorrow cleaning up their new suggested edits and getting ready for our collective editing sessions during Wednesday and Friday's classes.

The end of the semester brings another topic to the fore: course evaluations. I'll be asking my students to fill those out on various days this week (Wednesday for 280, and either Thursday or Friday for Calc I), and the task is made a bit less onerous this semester by the fact that the university is using a newly revised evaluation form which I feel is vastly superior to the old one. The new form actually asks students to respond to more meaningful, measurable, outcome-based items such as "the instructor encouraged you to develop your critical thinking skills" and the like, as opposed to the thinly-veiled popularity contest items of the old eval forms (some of which were as inane as "This course was a good course: strongly agree/agree/disagree/strongly disagree"). I'm looking forward to seeing how well it handles in practice.

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