Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Test with No Right Answers

At the slightly more than halfway point in the year, I decided to give my students an assessment on skills we would have learned previously this year.  In an AP Stat class, this type of exercise is meant to take the place of the 2 weeks of "review" that most educators wind up with at the end of the year before the AP Exam.

Here's the test: AP Statistics Mid-Year Assessment .  Using this link (and excusing the poor formatting that comes with inserting images into Google docs) they are to create a Google Doc and share it with me that is essentially their stream of consciousness  statistical reasoning.  They were permitted to use the class wiki, their Stat textbook (BVD - Stats: Modeling the World), and any other online resources available to them.  Big thanks to David Wees (@davidwees) for the data, graph, and the article!

They were not permitted to use each other as a resource, as this was an assessment to see what they know as individuals.  This makes me uncomfortable, since it doesn't necessary follow the cooperative model I've we've built the classroom on.  Next time I give an assessment, I'll allow them to use each other as a resource as well, but the task needs to be uber-authentic.  Suggestions?
I'll share a conversation I had with a student about this, since it made my day.

"Mr. C, can we use each other as a resource?" - Student
"I'd prefer not, since I want to see what you know." - Me
"But in 'real life' we'd be allowed to use each other." - Student
"Arrggghhh, why must you make that argument?" - Me
"Because you taught me to." - Student

First thing a Stat teacher, or anyone familiar with Statistics will notice is that for most of the questions there's not really one "right" answer.  The purpose behind this is to allow kids to think and write what they know, in regard to the skills being assessed.  I'm loving the thought that has gone into each response.  It feels like I've really touched on something here, something that does a little bit better than the strategy of "write everything you know about the topic" for the poor test taker/assessment do-er.

So what resource did kids use the most?  At quick glance, my class wiki comes in first, with the Stat textbook coming in second.  I'm hoping this spurs more content creation on the class wiki, so that it can develop into the ultimate online stat textbook.  Yes, I am still living that dream.


David said...

I like the idea of an assessment where the students have data, and have to decide what it means. Cool.

I've updated the article itself, and it now includes a link to download the data which could be useful.

Dvora said...

This is a great assessment to allow students to really apply their knowledge and ideas and for it to be open to different ideas.

Now to come up with something similar for algebra class. Hmmm... time to start thinking and planning.

Christiansen said...

@David: Thanks for the read and comment! Most importantly, thanks for the inspiration for the linear regression question!

@Dvora: Thanks for reading and commenting. I have been wondering how this type of assessment would look in an Algebra class. I think it's using their Algebra knowledge to arrive at some type of, if only we had some context for that. Also, it's tough to ask a question that doesn't really have a right answer within the context of Algebra.

Anonymous said...

Mr. C. I just requested permission for the document, will you share it with out editing rights so I can make a copy of it for myself?

I am trying to become "that teacher" that is awesome, and your blog is inspiring!

Thank you!