Archive for January, 2012

Exam – Time’s Up Made Easy


My MCR3U students wrote their final exam this morning.  The only clarifying question I was asked before the official start of the exam was “Miss do we really have only two hours for the exam?  Will we get extra time?”  My answer – “Yes to the first, No to the second”.

The NSpires were placed in “Press-to-Test” mode for the exam by each student. I was able to make a quick visual check of each handheld as I distributed the exam. The first students finished with 15 minutes remaining. As they handed in their exams early I manually exited Press to Test on each handheld.

With one minute remaining in our two hour exam time limit, I warned the remaining students that their handhelds would reset in one minute signifying the end of available time. At “Time’s Up”  I sent the “Exit Press to Test” file to all students and the handhelds reset. All student exams were then handed in promptly.  That was easy.


Collecting responses … one student at a time


One of the downfalls of collecting student responses on an assessment using the Navigator System is that students all have to be done before you can collect from the class.  There’s always one or two students that wait till the end, take forever and a day, or ignore the instructions and need to go through and do it again.  This makes it difficult at exam time when students are able to leave as soon as they finish the exam.  I can’t tell them to hold  out for another hour until Johnny is done so I can collect everyone’s responses.  Imagine the pressure on Johnny.

Today I discovered that you can collect files from an individual or select individuals in your class without interrupting the rest of the students working.  Simply right clicking on a student from Classes view, selecting Collect From, choose the file (usually the most recent sent), and then selecting individuals you want to collect it from.

I was concerned about trying this out on an exam as I once blew up the process by trying to collect a file from class twice or something…right in the middle of a test and ended up marking everything by hand that day. :)  It worked out today.  I was daring and it paid off.  Sometimes learning something new means taking a bit of risk.  Hey, what a great thought…maybe we should be sharing that with our students, encouraging them to take risks to learn. :)


Another colossal flop and learning opportunity


It’s Exam time.  I thought…what better opportunity to let the Navigator system really shine than to have my students write their exam right on the calculator.  Now there’s usually a short multiple choice section on each of my end-of-unit tests (unless we do a performance task for that unit instead), followed by full solutions.  The exam followed that same format with multiple choice, a few short application problems, then the full solutions.

I knew that collecting and monitoring student responses via the Navigator for the multiple choice would work swimmingly as I’ve done that before.  I decided to try it for the application problems.  What a disaster that turned out to be.  I began a list of students that were either struggling to keep up, or who had incorrectly input answers in the open-response type boxes.  I set a “correct” response and even added some prompts on the file such as (accurate to two decimal places) when dealing with money etc.  The class average (over 20 questions including abcd type stuff) was about 47% with many scoring a full 0%.

I spent a good 2 hours preparing the file, ensuring I typed in all of the questions, importing the graphics so nobody would get lost in the tns file wondering what question they just answered.  Then another hour or so cross-referencing actual responses to the solutions to see how well it worked.

My conclusion…the Navigator is great for closed-response questions and gathering feedback, but don’t try to evaluate open response questions by assuming you’ve provided enough hints on formatting issues.  My biggest downfall was the negative sign.  Unfortunately many students would put -1 rather than (-)1  where (-) is the negative sign and – is the subtract sign.  The system didn’t know enough to say that they were the same and I couldn’t input multiple right answers.

It was worth the time and effort to try it out, and now I have a better understanding of how the whole exam / self-assessment module works on the TI Navigator.