Friday, December 20, 2013

Rethinking Unit Exams in an Asynchronous Course: Week 13 reflections

My students took their first major exam last week. Scheduling a synchronous exam in a largely asynchronous course is difficult. I've changed the date of the exam at least two times. My strategy has been to schedule the exam once the slowest or close to slowest person has finished the bare minimum of assignments in order to take the exam. Balancing that desire with making the sure the fastest students are also fairly tested has proved to be a major obstacle. I think next year I ought to rethink the synchronous exam. This is especially possible since part of the exam is online and are different for each student, so there's no real need to have at least part of the exam occur on the same day. If I can construct enough written questions in a bank, then perhaps the entire exam can be asynchronously. On the other side, the one benefit of keeping the exam synchronous is it behaves as a catch up point for slower students. It puts the pressure on students to push ahead and not become complacent if they lag behind. It is a tough call. The entire purpose of going asynchronous is to meet the needs of all students, to give each student the ability to work at their own pace. I fundamentally believe this ought to be true. Unfortunately, the wild cards are students who have the ability to work faster but choose to slack off. I want the students who work behind to be those who normally struggle, not just because they behave in a lazy way.