Monday, September 3, 2012

Assessment Strategy for AP C

I'm running my AP C: Mechanics course a bit differently this year. Most notably, I'm using Matter and Interactions as the curriculum, which takes some major head-wrapping. I've done as much of that as I can before actually seeing students in the course. Frank Noschese, Mark Hammond, and I came up with standards and aligned old AP problems to chapters in M and I this summer, but the grainier nature of those standards presented me an assessment scheme challenge. Usually, my standards are much bigger, translating to fewer per term, and I only allow one standard to be reassessed per day (and only on M, W, and F, after registering via Google doc). Those standards, for fall and winter, look like this.

The AP standards look like this, with chapters 1-5 in the fall term, 6-10 in the winter, 11 in the spring (with some mechanism for including previous term standards that I haven't devised yet).

I was toying with some more project/portfolio-based assessment for this course, especially after I saw success with limited screencast reassessment at the end of last year).

What I'm going with is a combination of in-class and out-of-class assessment, which I'll put under the umbrella of 'portfolios.' Basically, there are a lot of ways that you can prove to me that you have nailed a standard (and it's your responsibility to make that case to me for each standard):

  • Show me how well you did on in-class assessments that covered that standard and/or reassessments (I'm only preparing one or maybe two per unit)
  • Show me how you applied this understanding to an in-depth analysis ('capstones')
  • Show me a lot of problem-solving from the text (M and I's problems are generally pretty robust and most are not the kind of sterilized problem that you see in Giancoli, Walker, etc.)
  • Ideally: all three.
I need a mechanism to make sure that not everybody's just doing problems, with all of the potential issues (ethics and others) that that entails. Maybe I'll make a tally sheet for them, so that they have to color-code the methods that they used, so they (and I) can see at a glance how they met the standard. I'd like to make sure that they do at least three capstones per term, as well.

I'm thinking about a binary scale (Yes, Not Yet) and a 50 + 50*(% of standards met) algorithm.



  1. I am in a similar situation as you. I am teaching introductory college physics from Matter & Interactions, and this is my first year using Standards Based Grading. What I am going to try is to include a standard for each chapter that says something like, "I can apply Chapter 14 skills to real life scenarios and/or I can use Chapter 14 skills in combination with other skills." This way, the majority of the questions I ask will be straightforward, and higher level questions will be assessed separately.
    I am also doing in-class and out-of-class assessments. I am hoping that, since I only count the student's most recent grade on a particular standard, the students won't have any reason to cheat on out-of-class assessments (since it is likely they will be re-assessed later on an in-class assessment).
    I would be interested to hear more about how your screencast reassessments went.

    1. I'm in a good situation that you don't have the advantage of, unfortunately, in that I had these kids last year, so they know my SBG ropes well, and I don't have to do too much mindset selling in their second year. THe balance for me is to make a system that helps them with the senior overscheduling issues, giving flexibility, but that doesn't enable their senioritis.

  2. In my 9th grade class, the kids will be moving from MC/TF to open-ended application to goal-less problems or projects. I'm trying to work on a similar assessment schedule for my AP-C kids, with the recognition that they don't need as much hand-holding and will be working through more ideas in the same time frame. My current outline is a set of AP-style problems in mini-exam format, followed by goal-less problems with a VPython and presentation/screen-cast requirement. As you said, once they have the list of standards and the representational tools to work through it all, it's really up to them to show a widely-applicable understanding.

    1. In addition to introducing less hand-holding, I'll also be introducing them to "we're not going to (or going to be able to) model everything this year - there might even be a bit of lecture." Ah, transitions.... :