Student feedback on having weekly practice quizzes (instead of homework)Posted: February 14, 2013
This term I eliminated the weekly homework assignment from my calc-based intro physics course and replaced it with a weekly practice quiz (not for marks in any way), meant to help them prepare for their weekly quiz. There’s a post coming discussing why I have done this and how it has worked, but a la Brian or Mylene, I think it can be valuable to post this student feedback.
I asked a couple of clicker questions related to how they use the practice quizzes and how relevant they find the practice quiz questions in preparing them for the real quizzes. I also handed out index cards and asked for extra comments.
Aside from changing from homework assignments to practice quizzes, the structure of my intro course remains largely the same. I get them to do pre-class assignments, we spend most of our class time doing clicker questions and whiteboard activities, and there is a weekly two-stage quiz (individual then group). I have added a single problem (well, closer to an exercise) to each weekly quiz, where in the past I would infrequently ask them to work a problem on a quiz.
Clicker Question 1
Clicker Question 2
Just from a quick scan of the individual student responses on this one, I saw that the students with the highest quiz averages (so far) tended to answer A or B, where the students with the lower quiz averages tended to answer B or C. I will look at the correlations more closely at a later date, but I find that this is a really interesting piece of insight.
Additional Written Feedback
Most of the time I ask the students for some feedback after the first month and then continue to ask them about various aspects of the course every couple of weeks. In some courses I don’t do such a great job with the frequency.
Usually, for this first round of feedback, the additional comments are dominated by frustration toward the online homework system (I have used Mastering Physics and smartPhysics), requests/demands for me to do more examples in class, and some comments on there being a disconnect between the weekly homework and the weekly quiz. As you can see below, there is none of that this time. The practice quizzes, the inclusion of a problem on each weekly quiz, and perhaps the provided learning goals, seem to do a pretty good job of communicating my expectations to them (and thus minimize their frustration).
Student comments (that were somewhat on topic)
- I feel like the practice quizzes would be more helpful if I did them more often. I forget that they have been posted so maybe an extra reminder as class ends would help.
- The wording is kind of confusing then I over think things. I think it’s just me though. Defining the terms and the equations that go with each question help but the quizzes are still really confusing…
- Curveball questions are important. Memorize concepts not questions. Changes how students approach studying.
- The group quizzes are awesome for verbalizing processes to others. I like having the opportunity to have “friendly arguments” about question we disagree on
- I love the way you teach your class Joss! The preclass assignments are sometimes annoying, but they do motivate me to come to class prepared
- I enjoy this teaching style. I feel like I am actually learning physics, as opposed to just memorizing how to answer a question (which has been the case in the past).
- I really enjoy the group quiz section. It gets a debate going and makes us really think about the concepts. Therefore making the material stick a lot better.
Last thought: With this kind of student feedback, I like to figure out a couple of things that I can improve or change and bring them back to the class as things I will work on. It looks like I will need to ask them a weekly feedback question which asks them specifically about areas of potential improvement in the course.