Evaluate: Differentiation Quest

posted May 25, 2016, 8:37 AM by Emily Kroutil   [ updated May 25, 2016, 8:39 AM ]
For this quest, I looked at data from my Projectiles unit to maintain continuity with the Create Skill.  First, I looked at the formative assessment quiz for the first 4 learning objectives (competencies).  These objectives basically deal with breaking vectors into components, calculating the components, and the angle.  It is prep work for the actual "meat" of the unit, solving horizontal and vertical projectile problems.  The class scores for this quiz were as follows:
For this quiz and these objectives, I was actually really happy with how my students performed.  A few struggled, but I was able to work with them individually to address these weaknesses.  This tells me that my students have a pretty good grasp on trig and the prep concepts needed to solve projectile problems.  This also tells me that they are pretty good at finding what they need in the word problems and, if given the formula, can manipulate it correctly to get the answer.  So, I continued to the next set of objectives (5-6), which are solving horizontal and angled projectile problems, respectively:
So far so good.  Then I get to the next two horizontal projectile questions:
Ok, stop!  Something here is drastically different.  We are down to between 41-58% of students getting these questions correct.  For #4, there isn't one wrong answer that is particularly popular, so this tells me they were guessing and really had no idea how to solve this problem.  The students historically suffer with a problem like this.  When they are given a height and distance and no initial velocity, they struggle.  This tells me that we need to practice these types of questions more (and to be fair, these are the harder problems and when I haven't looked at this material for awhile, I struggle with where to start too).  We do a problem like this in their lab, but since they work in groups, the math work that is turned in doesn't always reflect their knowledge because someone who DOES understand the concept, tends to help them with it (lets them copy their work without showing them how to do it).  I call this "not teaching them how to fish."  I have no problems with them helping each other, but my requirement is that the person doing the helping "teaches them how to fish and doesn't simply give them a fish".  They don't always follow this rule, however (they are teenagers!).  

Now, lets move onto problem #5.  Less than half of them know how to do this one and there is an INCORRECT answer that was chosen almost as often as the correct answer.  This tells me that they at least know how to start the problem and got stuck or lost somewhere along the way.  They chose the distractor quite frequently, which tells me that they are making a common mistake here.  This could be remediated individually when I go over the quiz, an instructional video could be created discussing this particular type of problem (could be helpful with #4 too!) or, in the case of virtual school, we should talk about this in our weekly synchronous session and maybe even have a discussion about this type of problem.  They are making a common mistake and this is easily remedied.  Much easier than #4, where almost half of the students have no clue where to begin.  It could also be useful to pair a student that got #5 correct with a student that got #5 incorrect (especially since its almost exactly a 50/50 split) and have the person who got the problem correct watch over or look over the work of the student who got it incorrect and "teach them how to fish".  

Now, let's look at some individual quizzes.  I've eliminated their names to comply with FERPA, so they will simply be referred to as Student A and Student B.  Student A's quiz is below:
Student A obviously needs a little more work on this section.  She got question #1 correct, which tells me she knows the first step of a horizontal projectile problem (solve for time!), but then gets stuck after.  She also got #8 correct, which didn't require any math, but was actually a concept question.  So, this tells me all is not lost with her.  I know that she's at least looked at the material, but maybe didn't spend as much time on it as needed (I try and tell them over and over that this unit is the most difficult and will take more work than any other, but they're teenagers, so of course they know better than me).

Now let's look at Student B (We will come back to Student A):
I swear, I just picked two students randomly, but these two would actually make excellent partners for reviewing this section before they took the alternate version of the quiz.  Student B missed one problem and it just happens to be a problem Student A got correct! (Seriously, I couldn't have planned that if I tried).  They would make excellent partners because Student B could help Student A with the bulk of the problems that were missed, but Student A wouldn't feel like she was getting tutored by a friend because she could help Student B with the problem she missed!  I would also direct Student A to the instructional video where I explain how to start (the part she's excellent at!) and solve each step of a horizontal projectile problem.  It would probably be worthwhile for Student A to watch that video a couple times while she CONCURRENTLY is solving a problem so she gets practice with the various steps.  Then, once she's solved a couple with the video, she could try working on them by herself and ask Student B for help if needed.  Of course, I'm always available, but sometimes they like learning from their friends rather than me.

I'm not sure if an LMS can do this automatically or if I could set up paths like, 
  • If you score greater than an 80%, you may move on to the next section.
  • If you score between a 50-79%, watch this instructional video and do such and such before attempting the alternate version of the quiz
  • If you miss question #5, view this resource and do such and such before attempting the alternate version of the quiz 
  • If you score lower than a 50%, attendance at the weekly synchronous session is mandatory before you may attempt the alternate version of the quiz.
  • And on and on.  
This could be similar to a choose your own ending book (remember those?), except the students are following their own, personalized learning path.  This way the students are getting exactly what they need when they need it.  This would actually be an interesting method to try with my flipped students....
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