Friday, August 19, 2011
I've always wondered about the best way to find out what our students know. How do I know what I know they know they know?
Over the course of this blog I hope we'll talk a lot about assessment. But as I'm putting up my syllabus I've decided on a strategy to make sure they do the weekly reading: homework. On the one hand, I treat my students like complete adults--I don't take roll, I call the cops not their parents if I have trouble with them, etc. But at a school where I lecture on Monday and Wednesday, the send the students to sections taught by TAs on Friday, I think it's only fair to everyone involved to make sure they do the reading.
What I've done, then, is this: give them a few bye weeks, but have as a rule that every week they are to do some of the online primary source reading found in the textbook. Usually these are followed up by a few basic questions--at least they are with the textbook I use (ahem...). Then I have the students email those responses to my TAs. The first year this was a disaster--the poor TAs got hundreds of unwanted emails a week. So now I've created an email address that students send their responses to. Using filters, the TAs can check who has done what, what discussion will be like, and, perhaps most usefully, have a way to say to that complaining student, "well, I see here you handed in your homework only twice, so you completely deserve the grade you earned..."
So far so good, but how do you assess?