Monday, November 24, 2014

Standards Based Quiz Spotlight: the Anatomy of Mastery Learning Cycles

Roughly there is one quiz per "I can statement." Students receive permission to take the quiz once they have completed the one-on-one conversation with me about the "I can" statement, called the "Hot Seat." Typically each quiz consists of five questions, designed at the application level on Blooms Taxonomy. Most of the questions are problems that assume the understanding of concepts and integrate the vocabulary and are similar to problem set questions. 

The quizzes are online and hosted on Moodle. Moodle is a powerful LMS because it supports randomized questions pulled from a question bank. This is important in an asynchronous class because the quiz questions are different on each attempt - whether a new student or the same student on a subsequent attempt. This reshuffling of questions allows for retakes and keeps academic integrity between the first or the last student to take the quiz on the same topic. 

Students must earn 4/5 or 80% to pass the quiz. This score is consistent with the school culture & my expectations. Once they pass the quiz, they earn level three out of four, which is meeting expectations. Most of the questions are multiple choice or calculation questions. I typically don't prefer to use multiple choice questions but use them when I'm able to input every possible choice as answers. For example, when figuring the probability in Punnett Square problems, the only possible answers are 0, 25, 50, 75 or 100. I also add a choice "there's not enough information to determine." With these types of problems, multiple choice can effectively gauge understanding - assuming there have been other assessments in the learning cycle. Some "I can" statements can't be quizzed at the application level w/ MC questions or calculations. In those cases, there are alternatives - building a model, writing a lab report, completing a lab or a case study. 

If students fail a quiz, there are certain tasks they have to complete, which differ based on the number of times they have taken the quiz. For every failed attempt, students have to make corrections and fill out a form describing their errors.

 Students also have to do the following:
  • after the first attempt: students complete any skipped problems from the Learning cycle problem set. Earlier in the cycle, students solved mandatory problems and as many optional problems as they felt the need to complete. After failing a quiz, the optional problems become mandatory. The hope is practicing more problems will help students review and prepare for a second attempt. 
  • after the second attempt: students complete at least one remediation activity. The remediation activities for a learning cycle may include online readings, simulations, extra problems and/or student made videos and problem sets
  • after the third attempt: students have to create their own set of problems and include solutions. In many ways, this last option is similar to the mastery projects in the next phase of the learning cycle. 

Once students pass the standards based quiz, they are able to move on to the next learning cycle. If they wish to further explore the same topic and/or show a higher level of understanding, they can complete mastery projects before moving on to the next learning cycle.