One of the highlights of the recent ICTCM conference was Eric Mazur’s keynote address about “Assessment For Learning.” He mentioned an assessment technique known as IF-AT (Immediate Feedback Assessment Technique) that reminded me a great deal of the review strategy I have been using in my intermediate algebra course. (Here’s a blog on that review strategy.) I thought it was a great idea to try, so immediately postponed my elementary algebra exams on systems of two linear equations in two unknowns by one day to give this a try. I added a second review day so I can introduce this strategy to my students over a two day period.
The idea is that students work on a series of problems individually. After half of the class period has ended, students submit their individual work and form groups of four students. They then discuss their answers as a team and submit a team answer to the first problem. If they get it right the first time they get full credit. If they get it wrong they can select a second answer to submit for 1/2 credit. They can even try it a third time if needed for 1/4 credit. I saw a video where the problems were in a multiple choice format with 4 possible answers, and the teams were given a scratch off card. A star was displayed on the right answer – if students see the star they know they are right, if they see a blank space that counts as an incorrect attempt.
You can see a step-by-step demonstration of how the IF-AT works
on this web page posted by Epstein Educational Enterprises.
I am going to use a Learning Catalytics Team-Based Assessment to put my spin on this process. On day 1, students will work individually on 8 problems for 30 minutes. Some problems will be conceptual, some will be systems to solve, and there will be two word problems. They will submit their answers as they work. I will then launch the team portion of the assessment. Students will form their own groups of 4, with one person responsible for entering their team answers. I have decided to give teams only two attempts on each problem. A correct answer on the first attempt will receive full credit and a correct answer on the second attempt will receive half credit.
The individual portion will make up half of the score, with the team portion making up the other half of the score. I will be counting the score as an in-class activity in my flipped classroom model. I expect students to take a little time to get used to working with Learning Catalytics, so I have tried to select problems that they will be able to answer in the given time limit. I expect day 2 of the review will be smoother. My students work so well together, and I expect to see their bonding pay off in this review.
Later this week I will let you know how it goes.
Do you have any experience using IF-AT in the classroom? Do you use it for testing? I’m curious how you address students who have testing accommodations through the testing office. Let me know by leaving a comment, reaching me through the contact page on my website, or reaching out to me on Twitter (@georgewoodbury).
Had a great time at ICTCM 2017 in Chicago. And I learned a lot. Between Maria Andersen’s opening day keynote and Eric Mazur’s Saturday sessions I feel that I am making good progress in some areas, but there is still room for improvement. My “lecture time” is very active and engaging, but I feel like I need to turn it up a bit and allow my students more time to experiment and discover. I need to use assessment FOR learning.
I heard from many instructors who are using our (Sullivan/Woodbury) Interactive Statistics and having great success. It gives students more responsibility for learning, and has changed the ways that the class is taught. We have quite an ambitious plan for 2.0, and cannot wait to share the details.
Finally, it was great to catch up with so many friends and well respected colleagues. I learn so much from you all and you motivate me to be my best. I am thankful to have such a terrific personal learning network.
Next week I will summarize the sessions I attended and the trends I noticed.
This Saturday I will be speaking at ICTCM about how I use Learning Catalytics in my Statistics and Algebra courses.
I started slowly in my Statistics courses, using Learning Catalytics to collect “written” homework. I often give written assignments to supplement MyStatLab exercises, and Learning Catalytics allows me to collect certain problems or parts of certain problems. The answers are automatically graded and scores are transferred to my grade book in MyStatLab. This strategy encourages students to do the homework and to be on time. Students, if you wish, can have conversations about their strategies or answers. As the results come in I can address common errors or misconceptions.
Reviewing for Exams
I found Learning Catalytics to be helpful for reviewing for exams. For example, while reviewing for an inferential exam I can post a problem and ask students to tell me which hypothesis test is the appropriate one to use. The same can be done for reviews on probability distributions, descriptive statistics, … I can ask conceptual questions or problems requiring calculations.
I can use these results to get a real time read on how my students are doing with their preparation, and determine which concepts to address in detail.
Flipping the Classroom/Peer Instruction
Here is where the real classroom power lies. When I flipped my Statistics class, I used Learning Catalytics to make the class sessions more interactive and engaging. I post a question and ask students to submit an answer. Then I either ask students to explain their answers to the class, discuss their answers in small groups, or I offer some insights of my own. At that point I allow students to change their answers if they wish.
This approach has turned my class into a conversation with my students, or a conversation among my students, which is more effective than the traditional “top down” lecture.
If you have any questions or comments about Learning Catalytics, flipped classrooms, Interactive Statistics, or anything else in this blog, please leave me a comment or reach out to me on Twitter @georgewoodbury.
ICTCM here I come …
Today in my elementary algebra class we were reviewing solving systems of equations by addition or substitution. We were going over a system where students were having trouble determining what number to multiply each equation by in the system in order to eliminate the variable x. We had been discussing that the goal is to find the LCM of 12 and 14, but I told them that on exam day they could always fall back on multiplying each equation by the coefficient of x in the other equation (while making sure that produced one positive coefficient and one negative coefficient).
I then showed the class that they could find the LCM by finding the prime factorization of 12 and 14, gathering the results in a Venn diagram. Multiplying 6 by 2 by 7, the LCM is 84.
I finally showed them where the Venn diagram tells us that we can multiply 12 by 7 to get 84, and 14 by -6 to get -84.
One of my students pointed out to me (and the entire class) how he came to decide that he could multiply the two equations by 7 and -6. He started with 14 and -12, then divided both of those by their common factor of 2.
I loved the original thought, and repeated what he said to the entire class. I saw a lot of heads shaking in approval, and my students have a new strategy to use when the LCM does not jump out at them. It was a great day in elementary algebra!
Do you have a story about a student discovery to share? I’d love to hear from you through the contact page on my website, posting a comment, or by reaching out to me on Twitter (@georgewoodbury).
This semester I am teaching two sections of elementary algebra using a flipped classroom model. The approach is different than the way I have flipped my statistics course, but has been very effective. I am relying heavily on MyMathLab outside the classroom.
For each section that we cover …
- Students complete a “Flip” assignment before the material is discussed in class.
The assignment contains conceptual videos that introduce each topic as well as videos of examples where problems are worked out.
After students finish the videos, there are a handful of problems that they have to work through, and all of the learning aids (except “Show Example” are available. Students can try each problem as many times as they would like.
- The “lecture” period is intended to involve active learning.
Some days begin with a class driven recap of what they learned in the Flip assignment. I count on students to drive this discussion, stepping in only when I have something to clarify or add. I mostly ask questions and wait for students to respond.
Most days involve group work or collaborative learning. Some days students turn in their assignments. Other days we go over answers as we go, or I ask students to share their answers and strategies at the board.
Every day is different, and I am looking for my students to be as agile in their learning as I am in my teaching.
- After class, students take a 5 question “Reflect” quiz that focuses on the problems that I feel are most important.
The results on the student’s first Reflect quiz attempt load a personalized HW assignment, containing 3 exercises associated with each problem on the quiz. If a student gets a problem correct on the first quiz attempt, they get instant credit on the personalized HW for the 3 associated problems.
Students use the personalized HW for self remediation, then they can go back and take the quiz again as many times as they would like to.
One question many have about flipping the classroom is “What do you do if students arrive unprepared?” In my experience, having the Flip assignments due for a grade motivates students to do them. Also, because they hear their classmates participating in the discussions and contributing during “lecture they feel more compelled to be prepared themselves. I have seen some of my students in the tutorial center in the morning before class starts trying to get some help to make sure they understand the material, and that can only lead to good things.
I am happy with the way things are going, and I am progressing towards less discussion at the beginning of class as my students become stronger. It gives me (& my embedded tutor) more opportunities to walk around during class and talk to students one-on-one, clarifying as we go.
The classes just took the exam on Chapter 3 (Graphing lines, equations of lines), and 61 out of 71 students passed the exam. The mean score in each class was in the high 80s, with median scores of 92 and 93 in the two classes. This test was very similar to the test I gave last semester, but the results are much stronger. On to systems of equations …
Are you flipping your classroom? I’d love to hear what you are doing. Interested in trying this approach? Please leave a comment on this blog, contact me through the contact page on my website, or reach out to me on Twitter (@georgewoodbury).
I am a mathematics instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA, as well as the author of algebra and statistics textbooks with Pearson.