Day 82: Student-generated Problems


Rather than reassess on SBG standards on a quiz, I have several students who are creating their own scenarios to analyze and solve. Why I like it:

  • I don’t have to keep creating problems for reassessment.
  • Students are creating problems, which arguably is a more sophisticated task than solving teacher-created problems.
  • Students and I assess via a conversation about the problem, rather than me taking a stack home to grade.
  • Students really struggle with creating good problems (reasonable values, solvable in the first place, etc) and struggle even more creating original problems.
  • While it is easy for students to copy each other’s problems, making minor changes to appear original, I think that the student-teacher conversation assessment would quickly bring that in focus.

In the example shown here, the first analysis is mostly correct in my eyes. In our discussion, the student likened dribbling a soccer ball to our bowling ball and mallet activity: in order to keep the ball moving at a constant speed across carpet/grass, repeated taps were needed. (I guess the actual situation is a series of accelerations (kicks) and decelerations (time between kicks) that average out to a fairly constant speed.)

The second analysis has some issues. But first what’s good: The 65 N kick was determined by using a force probe to “kick” a soccer — the student didn’t know how strong a kick was and I suggested to go measure it somehow. However, the student incorrectly assumed the forces on the ball were balanced as it was kicked into the air. This assumption, along with the 65 N kick, yields a soccer ball weighing 92 N! (“It’s a really heavy soccer ball.”) So this generated some good discussion and the student is going to retry by writing a problem about supporting a falling booking shelf.

I’d love to move away from quizzes and have portfolios of student created problems/scenarios as a demonstration of understanding. Or just have quizzes just on specific skills I would expect students to be fluent in, and the portfolio problems and analysis to better demonstrate higher order reasoning. 


About Frank Noschese

HS Physics Teacher constantly questioning my teaching.

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