Monday, 9 April 2012

Assessment Without Anxiety

Daripada: Alvin White
Web :

A journal is a personal record of occurrences, experiences and reflections kept on a regular basis. Students keep a journal of their mathematical experiences inside and outside of class. The purpose of journals is not to assign a grade for each entry but to help students find their own voices and to be reflective about the subject. Allowing more informal tentative writing into the classroom encourages students to think for themselves as opposed to only knowing second hand what others have thought before them. Mathematics is sometimes perceived as stark and unbending. This may be caused by presentations which are strictly definition-theorem-proof, or lack a sense of historical evolution and excitement. Some professors insist that all answers to homework and exam problems be in full sentences, with severe penalties for violations. The students are given a sheet with instructions and illustrative examples and are left to sink or swim. There is little effort to convince students of the merits and advantages of this demand. The perception is that the professor is not "student friendly." If the object is to help students learn to express themselves in writing, journals offer a more natural approach, and the perceived relationship with the professor is not so confrontational. When the task is to "solve a problem," students who are already writing in their journals may approach the solution in a more expansive and discursive fashion. Mathematics may thus be elevated above memorization of facts and formulas. Journals are a form of self-assessment, an opportunity for students to think about their knowledge of the subject and to strengthen their confidence. The journals are not graded; they afford an opportunity for dialogue between each student and the teacher. Grades are based on homework, class participation, quizzes and exams. The journal dialogues allow the students and the teacher to know each other beyond the anonymity of the classroom activities.

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