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  • 1.  Test (and other!) Question Alternatives

    Posted 06-18-2021 14:59:00
    Finally this year, when faced with unproctored at-home exams for my students, I collated the many alternative ("less-googleable") question types that have been floating around in my head from seeing, hearing, or just thinking of them. I have found that this list has been really, really helpful in both writing my exams this year and in framing some of my in-class discussions, examples, and teaching approaches.

    Many of these questions also encourage student ownership of the process and understanding of the underlying math, not just the final answer. I think this will permanently transform my classroom examples and exams well into the future. While I have known about many of these for many years, it turns out that having them consolidated in a list (and not just rambling in my head) made all the difference in my actually putting them to regular use!

    I'm happy to share the list, and I also wonder:

    Do you have any ideas to add to the list (linked below)?

    Less-Googleable Question Types for Math


    Barbra Steinhurst
    Portland CC
    Hillsboro OR
    AMATYC Treasurer

  • 2.  RE: Test (and other!) Question Alternatives

    Posted 06-18-2021 15:44:00
    This is fantastic Barbra! Thanks for sharing this list. It's always nice (and validating) to see commonalities among us with respect to what we've tried and what we do. I think that your list is pretty exhaustive and impressive.

    My only twist on a few of them is for students to look up an answer to a problem, share the website's process and answer, and then explain (in writing or sometimes by recording themselves) what exactly is going on mathematically. Another twist is to find a method that varies from what we did in class or from what is in the text, and have students explain and evaluate that method. I've used this on exams, but also as a great class activity where I put up two different website's solutions to the same problem and asked students to pick the one that they preferred and to explain the steps (and why they preferred it). There is some wild stuff out there. It's fun to see their reactions when show them a seemingly convoluted method for solving a problem. But my hope is that they become more critical consumers of information and answers, and eventually realize that the internet is a support and a learning tool.

    Chris Sabino
    Associate Professor
    Harold Washington College
    Chicago IL

  • 3.  RE: Test (and other!) Question Alternatives

    Posted 06-21-2021 13:40:00
    I think this list is a great source of inspiration to teachers. While taking a less procedural approach to mathematics education is more challenging (for both student and teacher), such approaches can lead to stronger bonds between teachers, students, and mathematics. Seeing that mathematics is about the preservation of truth rather than rule-following will give students hints as to the creative possibilities within mathematics. If proofs and theorems are discussed in class, looking at how the steps in a proof relate to the requirements of the theorem can be illustrative (how changes in one relate to changes in the other).

    What made me think of writing: in case teachers are unaware, “Given graph, find the formula [instead of formula --> graph]” is, indeed, just “less Googleable” as software does exist that automatically converts graphs into formulas (for some of the formulas and graphs typically encountered at a high-school level). (I implemented such functionality for the HP Prime.)