Thursday, January 12, 2012

Assessment Survey

In response to my blog post yesterday about why I think students aren't attempting feedback questions, misscalul8 asked, "Have you tried asking the students why they don't try the feedback problems or ask them how they study?" To be honest, I've never been a fan of asking my students survey questions, especially not ones that may give them the chance to criticize me. I suppose that goes back to the little gnawing fear that they'll all say I suck as a teacher as well as that I'm afraid that they won't take it seriously. However, during my half hour drive into work, I thought to myself that maybe it would be a good idea to ask them. I suppose that I am getting more comfortable in my own skin as a person and as a teacher.

I only surveyed my Advanced Algebra 2 students (17 students there today) - I figured they would take it the most seriously and thought that it would give me a good idea whether it's worth asking my regular Algebra 2 students the same questions. I have included all responses but I obviously didn't edit their grammar. So, without further ado, here is the survey and their responses, followed by my comments in blue:

Please answer the following questions honestly. Your answers will help me assist you in your learning of mathematics and will not affect your grade in any manner.

1) How do you normally prepare for a test or quiz in math?

  • I try to learn what it is we're being tested on, since I usually don't understand when we learn it in class.
  • I look over questions that I'm not sure about, until I understand them.
  • Student doesn't do anything (2 students)
  • I just pay attention in class and write things down.
  • Good amounts of sleep.
  • Do practice questions.
  • The review sheet. (3 students)
  • Study like crazy when it comes closer to the time of the test.
  • I do the review sheet and sometimes take notes.
  • Go over what the test is on.
  • Listen in class.
  • Practice.
  • Do math problems / review sheet.
  • All of the homework. extra problems worked through, and the review sheet.
With this being my Advanced class, I expected them to have some sort of plan for preparing for the test. Also at this level, I am not surprised to see that 2 of them do nothing. I remember being in high school math classes and not really doing anything to prepare for the test because I felt I knew the material well. It wasn't until I got to college (and Calculus) that I really had to study and it took me a bit to figure that out. I'm not hugely concerned with what I see here.

2) When you are given a review sheet for an upcoming test or quiz, do you work through the problems?

none 1
less than half 4
about half 3
more than half but not all 7
all 2

I am glad to see that more than half do at least half of the review sheet. At least it's not a waste of my time. I would like to see more in the "more than half but not all" and "all" categories though.

3) What do you think would help you better prepare for tests or quizzes in math? Why?
  • (main point) More explanation of how to do the things, because in class we go too fast and I get confused.
  • Pay more attention to what I'm confused about.
  • Sleeping more. I would be more alert in class.
  • If I could remember how to do the feedback problems I would be better prepared because I don't ever remember how to do the feedback whether I look over them again or not.
  • Review games
  • Review every question I do not know.
  • Nothing really.
  • If I did my homework it would help.
  • Do one problem from each section on the test, like the problems on the test, not exact ones, the day before the test. (**I think she meant for the class or me to do these problems.)
  • Practice the problems over and over.
  • Nothing. I catch on or I don't, how I work doesn't matter.
  • More review sheets or fun worksheets. Do homework problems on the board.
  • Do more work.
  • To do more problems to practice.
  • More study guides.
  • Coming up with a fun idea to help us understand better and pay attention more.
  • Student didn't answer.
I want to start with the first response. This response bugs me. It is the only one I have in this class. If I slow down much more, I am going to lose about the top third of students in my class because I will be going too slow. I already have issues with my 2 brightest students as far as attention issues in class (and some of those times they really should be paying attention). Maybe this student shouldn't be in the "advanced" class if this student isn't keeping up. The only other response that bothered me was the one about doing one problem from each section on the test the day before. Both of these students are freshmen (our Algebra 2 comes after Algebra 1) and they do need to be aware that an "Advanced" class doesn't mean I hold your hand the whole way.

I was pleased to see that most of the responses pointed out things that the particular student should be doing. I was a little nervous to see these responses as the question could be taken as what more I could do to help them prepare. I have the feeling that when I have my Algebra 2 students do this, there will be more suggestions as to what I can do instead of things they could do.

This year, I have tried something different with testing. Instead of giving a "unit test," I have given quizzes with some problems that are for a grade and some where you get feedback only.
4) Do you like this method better than unit tests? Why or why not?
  • Yes and no because we are moving too fast and I sometimes forget the stuff we are being graded on and yes because if I do understand then I can possibly get an exempt on it the next test.
  • I really like this method, it makes me feel more comfortable knowing that if I don't understand the feedback questions then I will get help.
  • Yes, so we know how we're doing.
  • I like the fact you give us quizzes with the graded problems but I don't like that you put feedback on there because I feel I need more practice.
  • Yes. You get breaks in between quizzes instead of one big test.
  • Yes because that is less you have to study for.
  • I'd rather have a unit test because if we learn too much at once then I get confused.
  • Yes, because I see problems like that more than once. It helps me understand what I did wrong on the test.
  • Yes I like this better, especially when you exempt it from the next. It gives me a heads-up.
  • Yes, but I HATE how we learn 6 learning targets, then take a quiz on the first three. I forget some stuff learning new things between.
  • I don't really care either way.
  • For sure!
  • Yes, I do. It doesn't make it as big of a test.
  • Yes, I like having only some problems graded.
  • Yes, because only the first few problems are graded.
  • Yes, because it helps you prepare for the next quiz.
  • Yes, I like this method because it's easier to see what I do wrong.
I am somewhat glad to see they like this method better. At least the length and amount of tests seems to be enough. However, with testing every 5-7 class days, I'm not sure that's the best way to prepare them for what's coming in the future. I think the student who wants the unit test really doesn't want the unit test, because then it will be a larger amount of material.

On the other hand, I'm not real thrilled about continuing to have to make up reviews and quizzes for every 5-7 class days. 

5) Do you attempt the feedback problems? Why or why not?
  • Sometimes, if I actually understand it.
  • Yes, because I usually get 5's.
  • Yes I do because if I get them right I don't have to do them on that test.
  • Yes because I want the feedback
  • Yes most of the time because I want to see if I know it.
  • Sometimes I do but sometimes I forget about it.
  • Most of the time. I only don't if I don't understand it.
  • If I know them.
  • Yeah because you tell us to, and it gives me a good understanding of where I am.
  • Yes, because it's on the test.
  • Sometimes I don't.
  • Yes, sometimes, when I know how.
  • Yes, to at least attempt them.
  • Yeah, because you tell us to.
  • Yes, that way I know what parts of the problem I have to work on for the next test.
  • Yes, so I can see how I need to study for the next week.
This was somewhat telling, but not as much as I had hoped. I was a little surprised to see that some students weren't attempting feedback problems because they didn't know how to do them. I guess I had hoped they would go as far as they could so I could offer feedback on what they did know.

6) Have you come in and re-assessed a learning target?

yes 13
no 4

No surprises here. Most of these students want to do well.

7) If you answered yes to question 6, why did you decide to re-assess?
  • Because I failed it on the normal test, and needed time to learn it so I can get a better grade.
  • I re-assessed because I understood what I missed, and I wanted to correct it.
  • Because I like getting 100%s
  • I decided to re-assess to try and get extra points and keep my grade up.
  • It wasn't a four or above.
  • Usually the stuff I missed was stuff I knew how to do.
  • I decided to because I knew I know the problems and I knew I could get the answer right a second time.
  • To get my grade better.
  • I didn't get a five when I knew I could have.
  • I did bad.
  • I didn't do good.
  • To get a better grade.
  • I learned what I did wrong and wanted to fix it.
A mixed bag here. I am glad to see some students wanted to show they knew the materials. I am seeing more "improve my grade" type comments here. Guess I need to work on how I present SBG better.

If you answered no, why did you decide not to re-assess?
  • 2 students didn't answer.
  • I stick with my original grade.
  • I haven't yet because I have a 100%, but will re-assess because I screwed up one of the learning targets.
The one student who answered "I stick with my original grade" is kind of an odd bird. Very bright student who gets many things very quickly, but not always in the same way everyone else does. This student is an Emotionally Disturbed student who is mainstreamed for my class. I guess I'm not really surprised by that response from this student. I think the 2 no answers bother me more than anything here. I was hoping for some insight.

I think I'm going to give the same survey to my Algebra 2 students. They have a quiz tomorrow and at this point I'm thinking I'm going to give it to them after they are finished. I am expecting some different responses and even some different tones in their responses. Should be interesting...


misscalcul8 said...

Good job trying something new that you were uncomfortable with! You're growing :)

I've found that students are always harder on themselves than on me and they know how to be honest without being mean. Look for overall trends and tryyyy not to read into specific comments.

Plus, sometimes just having a very informal conversation with your classes and asking for their opinions and feedback can do a lot of good. They aren't used to be asked for their opinions by adults or actually being listened to. They can have some great insight sometimes. And sometimes they are just kids.

Did you read Jason's blog post about managing feedback? He asked students which numbers or area they wanted feedback on. That could help focus your feedback comments and maybe save you some time?

Lisa said...

I am behind on my google reader, so I haven't read Jason's post yet. Hoping to get caught up on reader this weekend. Thanks for the heads up.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts - I appreciate it!