Reassessment Experiment

CV.3 (A) I can solve problems involving average speed and average velocity.

That learning goal is the thorn in the sides of many of my students right now.

They took their midterm exam last week and many missed the question associated with that goal. The (A) denotes that it is a core goal.  Which means that, based on this grading scale:

their quarter grade cannot go above 69 until all core goals are met.

I handed the exams back in class yesterday.  Naturally, many students wanted to reassess on the spot. Since I have an archive of quizzes from previous years, it was easy for me to print out a bunch and let them have at it.

And most of them missed it again on the reassessment. No surprise there, really. Without any remediation, it was just another shot in the dark.

So as an experiment, I posted the following to our class’s Edmodo page today:

Does CV.3 have you Down? If so, do the following by Monday:

(1) Explain, in detail, the difference between average speed and average velocity. Simply writing the two equations won’t be sufficient.

(2) Describe in detail a situation where an object’s average speed and its average velocity have the same value.

(3) Describe in detail a situation where an object’s average speed and its average velocity have different values.

(4) Create your own physics problem involving average speed and average velocity that is NOT a simple “plug-and-chug” type problem. (For example, “A car travels 50 miles north in 2 hours. What is its average speed and velocity?” is NOT acceptable.) Write up both the problem and a complete solution. Feel free to use pictures, graphs (even video) as part of your problem. Check out this link for non-“plug-and-chug” problem types: http://tycphysics.org/TIPERs/tipersdefn.htm

(5) Cite all resources (classmates, parents, books, web pages, videos, etc.) you used. (It doesn’t have to be in proper MLA format. A simple list is fine.)

Submit you work HERE on Edmodo. You should upload a file (word, PDF, etc.). The work must be YOUR OWN. I can tell when “collaboration” is really copying.

I hope this provides both the necessary remediation and a unique opportunity to reassess beyond simple quiz questions. I am really excited to see what kind of problems they write. I have done student problem writing in the past, but was never pleased with the results. Perhaps by requiring them to create a TIPER problem, we can push past equation memorization and towards understanding.

This scenario has also raised a few more unanswered questions: Why do I have this goal in my course in the first place? Why do my students keep missing it even though all quizzes (and the midterm) are open notebook? And if so many students are missing it, is it really a “core” goal?

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12 responses to “Reassessment Experiment

  1. Just because they miss it does not mean it is not core. That might be a good reason for it to be core. It is an essential problem that they have misconceptions on and carry those misconceptions with them (sometimes no matter what we have done to rid them of it). As a high school Physics and Math teacher I would consider it a core concept. How can you discuss any motion if you cannot discuss motion when velocity/speed do not change?

  2. I also caution against using student failure as a judge of what is core. You may need to find a different way to teach it, but average velocity is a core concept. (I’m not so sure that speed is a core concept.)

  3. This isn’t a substantial note, but it is a B objective in my classes.
    1.7 B CVPM I can solve problems involving average speed and average velocity.
    It was one of the most frequently missed B objective on our exam, too (although a majority of them were able to do it, it was still one of the most frequently missed… if that makes sense).

    The same/different question was a frequent one for my early reassessments on that objective.

  4. I find that being armed with the knowledge ahead of time that this is a trouble spot is very powerful. If there is a concept I know is difficult I hit them with many challenging formative assessments ahead of time. Team challenges, authentic problems, any and everything I can think of to make those skills second nature.
    Oddly, my students rarely have problems with average velocity. What grade level are these students, and how does this topic correspond to the Math curriculum?

  5. I like the way you have the students working independently to build a deeper understanding of exactly what average velocity and average speed are… this is an ongoing issue in my Regents classes too, one that we hit on regularly from the first week of school all through our last week of classes in June!

  6. The question stem gave this position vs. time graph:
    pt graph
    Students needed to find the average velocity from t=0 s to t=40 s. The mistakes made were:
    1. Forgot to include direction.
    2. Calculated average speed (distance/time) not average velocity (displacement/time)
    3. Calculated the velocity (or speed) for each of the 3 segments and averaged them. (“You said average velocity.”)

    The students in the class or 11th and 12th graders. It’s college-prep level — almost all students are in (or have already had) pre-calculus.

    I have the learning target as a “core” goal because of its simplistic nature. Average speed is distance/time while average velocity is displacement/time and has direction.

    On the other hand, I also feel that energy conservation and momentum conservation are fundamental principles in physics, but I would consider applying them correctly to be an “advanced” goal.

    • I have been struggling with the question, “What is ‘core?'” this year in my first attempt at implementing SBG. Is it what is simple – or what is essential? What if a student knows the concepts behind speed/velocity, but gets the names confused? If a student can make general predictions using the law of conservation of energy, but cannot calculate kinetic energy of a moving object?

      • The way I have things set up this year, “core” is what is simple, but is also often essential for “intermediate” and “advanced.” For example, being able to calculate average speed and velocity is core. Interpreting a velocity-time graph requires a bit more abstract reasoning and is thus “intermediate.” Finally, being able to model a constant velocity scenario with multiple representations requires even more brain work and abstraction and would be considered “advanced.”

        If many students falter with a core concept, I will try to reteach and reassess in class again before students try to reassess on their own.

  7. At that level of class, average speed and average velocity can certainly be required as fundamental understanding, but they would have to be taught, as the ideas are not intuitive for many people. The notion of separately totalling distance and time is crucial, but not widely understood.

    The government gets wrong a very similar problem of average fuel efficiency. One wants to minimize total fuel usage, which would be done if they averaged gallons/mile (or liters/km) for fleet averages, rather than averaging miles/gallon as they do.

  8. I’ll be interested to hear the results of your experiment!

  9. Frank, thanks for pointing me to this post.

    I agree with the general consensus above that it is reasonable for something to be a core standard even if most of them can’t show proficiency initially.

    I am very interested to find out how your reassessment experiment turns out. I like how you have asked them to create a problem (more on this in a moment), but also asked for some other ways for them to show proficiency all as part of the same assessment. After they complete this assignment it seems that you should have a very clear understanding of where they are at with the two concepts.

    As for the create-a-problem task. I think those are fantastic on many levels. It leans on the “don’t really understand it until you teach it” idea, it helps them understand the challenges that you are faced with in coming up with “good” questions, and it has great potential to take them through the problem-solving process in a completely non-algorithmic way.

    Last winter I used PeerWise (link 1, link 2) in my intro Physics course. PeerWise is basically hot-or-not for multiple-choice questions that the students create. They make multiple choice questions and can vote them up or down, and leave feedback, so the best questions rise to the top. They can use the questions that other students make as study tools. And they find it pretty fun. It works much better in a giant college course since there are many more people participating, but I ran it in a course with 37 students and found that it was a good exercise for them. There weren’t enough “good” questions for the students to really use it as a study tool, but I could see from the comments left on various questions that there was some learning that went on as the students completed each other’s questions.

    • No one took me up on the reassessment experiment as stated above. However, it will now become an option for showing “exemplary work” in order to earn over a 95% for the quarter. Since I’m making this change during the year, I don’t want to shift it to 90%. I’m also “bringing up the rear” and will likely look stricitly at proficiencies and make no distinction between “basic” and “developing” for quarter grades. Expect a new grading chart from me in the future.

      Thanks for introducing me to PeerWise! What a great idea. Though, at first glance, I honestly thought is was a cheating site trying to look legit. But now I see its the real deal. I will investigate further!

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