Thursday, June 16, 2022

Test Correction Mastermind

I clearly wanted to turn assessments (summative assessments, mind you) into learning tools, as evidenced by Test Correction Journals (see previous post). But I wanted to do it differently in my AP Physics classes. Some students in AP Physics 2 had been in Physics, so TCJs were old hat to them.

So I developed Test Correction Mastermind for my AP students. The broad goals are the same: get students talking to each other about test items with the possibility of some sugar (points) at the other end if they got the questions sorted.

As was the case for TCJs, this activity is done well after the test has been administered in class and the make-up window has closed. This time, I give each lab group (3 or 4 students) a blank BairdTron and a copy of the test. Again there are 4 forms and I give different groups different forms. The questions are all the same, but scrambled differently. Different forms in adjacent groups minimizes the value of conversations overheard between neighboring groups. 

The objective is to complete the test as if it were a group activity. But each group is in competition with all the other groups to get the top score (20 multiple choice items on the AP unit tests, and one free response—the free response isn't part of the TCM).

The reward structure is as follows: each member of the group gets a point for every correct answer above 15 (P=score–15). The top-scoring team members get 4 more points on top of that; second place folks each get 2. At most, a student could add 9 points to their test score. Among AP students in whom competitiveness is sometimes strongly expressed, 9 points is plenty.

When about 20 minutes of class time remain (57-minute periods), I rattle my thunder drum and announce the "The oracle is now open for 5 minutes!" Group members submit their BairdTron for scoring and return to their group. I tally up the number of incorrect answers, write that number on their form, and call them back to retrieve the scored document. 
I do not indicate which items are incorrect, only the total number of items they answered incorrectly. 
The group now has a chance to switch as many answers as they please for a few minutes. Which ones to switch or whether to switch any of them? That's for them to decide.

When 5 minutes remain, I rattle the thunder drum again and collect all the BairdTrons. In the last few minutes, I answer as many questions as they pose. (They still have their test forms.) "What was #7 on form Z?" "The answer was B." Expressive reactions ensue. When the bell rings, all the test forms are returned to me and the thunder drum is stowed.

Some groups get all 20 correct in the "Oracle Review". Those poor souls must entertain themselves for the remainder, as I do not return their BairdTron to them for refinement. In the event of ties, the 4+2 bonus points are divided.

I was very happy with this activity. Students argued the physics with passion and urgency. They were highly engaged, despite playing for a relatively small reward. There is some stress in that time is limited, and groups can't spend too much time arguing over any one problem if they are to cover all 20. This is an activity I don't think would be suited for my regular Physics classes. But in AP, it worked great.

You might worry that one group might have a distinct advantage over others by self-selecting into a super-brainiac group, depriving other groups of their genius. Not to worry; I kept the groups as heterogeneous as practicable. 

But that's a topic for a different post. Coming soon.

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