I know this is not a new concept, but as an experiment, I gave Calculus an electronic "final exam." I use quotes because with our exemption system it was not a real graded thing, but an activity they completed during the traditional final exam period. Several people I know out there have used Desmos Activity Builder to construct a proper final. With the additional of multiple choice and other screen types, it's a natural fit. You can also do similar stuff with a Google Form. I combined both ideas just to see what there was to see.

Part 1: Form

Students were directed to a quick Google Form with 13 questions, 8 of them were specific to Calculus, the others were things like input on seating changes, feedback on their in class support, etc.

It's always interesting to ask kids about terms you use to refer to things. Although I swear I used the phrase "stack" when referring to f, f', and f'' enough that they should know what I'm talking about, several needed hints. The intent was to try the delivery method, not grade it, so providing hints or letting them talk about the questions was fine with me.

Exporting the answers to a spreadsheet when everyone had finished is great. I don't know how efficient it would be to grade a series of short answers in a spreadsheet, but probably no worse than combing through a stack of papers.

And of course, I got a proper answer to the most burning question:

I'm not too surprised.

Part 2: Activity Building

Second, they were required to work through an Desmos Activity. The intent here was to check out how sketching slides worked with Chromebooks. The last big topic of the semester was curve sketching, so it was a no brainer to have them attempt this:

This 80 response overlay is impressive to look at, and gives you an idea of how many students went the wrong direction (graphing f''(x) instead of f(x)). It also pointed out the wobbly nature of drawing with a trackpad. I suppose buying a million regular mice would fix the problem, or touchscreens.

The unexpected "oooooooh" came from a response screen where students had to enter a math expression. I had no idea their responses could be grouped like this:

Interesting to see that there were several types of correct notation in use, and really nice to see how frequently certain kinds of errors are made (lack of dx for example). The actual grouping I got goes on for a little longer, and the errors start becoming more egregious, but you get the idea. Also unexpected and awesome that pressing the Anonymize button works here.


Both aspects to this "final" went smoothly. No one had any trouble and the kids really wanted to stick with it when it came to sketching. You can probably chalk this up to classroom culture, but props to the kids for working on this despite knowing there would be no grade. If you can reach "do this because I would like you to do this, I'm interested in what happens" status with kids you've really got something. When we return in January I think I will show them the teacher overlays and see if they can figure out why people chose to sketch what they did.

In both cases my job was made easier. I was able to collect information fast and get it organized unlike the scraps of index cards I've used previously.

AuthorJonathan Claydon