Context
Weekly Quick Check assignments on Canvas were used to assess student engagement with the readings and the lecture videos. Class instruction was based on the lecture videos that I developed for this class and on the required readings from the adopted textbook. The readings were over mathematical definitions and preliminary examples and had to be completed ahead of watching the videos. The lecture videos demonstrated how to use said definitions to construct mathematical proofs and went over more involved examples. It is worth mentioning that enhancing proof writing skills is one of the most important learning outcomes for this class. That said the heart and soul of writing mathematical proofs is understanding mathematical definitions and using mathematical logic. I used the Quick Check assignments to make sure that students were understanding the definitions of terms, the notation that went along with them, and the examples/proofs explained in the videos. The reason I included this type of assessment was to address what research in mathematics education has shown; “students have a variety of difficulties understanding and using definitions, many of which could be attributed to the structure of mathematics as conceived by mathematicians and the cognitive processes involved in concept acquisition” (see article provided). All questions in the Quick Checks were drawn directly or indirectly from each week’s instructional materials. (See attached files in supplemental materials).
Step-by-Step Implementation
Step 1: Decide what the learning outcomes for an instructional week are. Each week was focusing around two to three concepts. The mathematical objects, their notation and their properties that were part of said week’s concepts along with the statements of mathematical Theorems connecting these concepts were the focus of each week’s Quick Check
Step 2: Create the Quick Check assignments. The types of Quick Check questions that I used were multiple choice, text matching, and
- For definitions of terms and statements of Theorems I would use the “text matching”
- For special cases or a “what-if” scenario of a problem that was discussed in the lecture videos I would use a numerical answer type of
- For all other purposes I used multiple choice type of questions. The majority of these questions were true-false questions (thereby two choices were available: true and false) where a provided statement had to be classified as true or
Step 3: Schedule the assignments predictably and purposely. Students had unlimited attempts for each Quick Check assignment making it a low stakes assessment. The deadline for submission was one day before the homework assignments were due. Consequently, it was recommended that students complete the Quick Check assignments before homework assignments thereby gaining a deeper and more mature understanding of the readings and lecture videos before completing more involved exercises. Every Quick Check assignment had ten questions.
Step 4: Connect Quick Check responses to other course assessments for the week. Since Quick Check does not allow for open-ended questions and students had unlimited attempts, I would ask students to justify some of their responses as part of their weekly homework assignments. Students quickly realized that they can “guess” the correct answer and get full points on a Quick Check assignment, but they would then have to explain their response meaning that they would still have to understand how things worked and were tied together. I was also choosing a Quick Check question per week to include in every week’s timed Quiz.
Effectiveness
I distributed anonymous mid-semester course evaluations twice during the semester for this class. I was teaching this class for the first time and I wanted to make sure I receive student feedback before the semester ended. One open ended question in the questionnaires was to state parts of this class that you like and would not want to see changed. Both times students agreed that Quick Check assignments help them focus and realize the most important aspects of a week’s instructional materials. They also mentioned that they liked that they had unlimited attempts and could keep trying the questions. I can also attest that I was checking the students’ attempts on the Quick Check platform and I would see students trying the assessment over and over until 100% was achieved. I would also regularly observe the student analytics on Canvas and would see that students that were not achieving 100% on a given Quick Check attempt they would then go back and re-access the textbook (used IU-etext for this class and the textbook was accessible from the Canvas course site) or revisit the links for the lecture videos. Not being in a physical classroom where the instructor may engage math students using think-alouds and what-if scenarios, the Quick Check assignments achieved just that. Students were engaging more actively with the lectures.
Keywords
Associated tools or materials
- Holguin, V.A. (2016). “Stages Identified in University Students’ Behavior Using Mathematical Definitions,” in Wood, M. B., Turner, E. E., Civil, M., & Eli, J. A. (Eds.). (2016). Proceedings of the 38th annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. Tucson, AZ:
The University of Arizona. - Annotated quick check questions
- Canvas Quick Check
About this course
- Discipline: Mathematics