Daniel (@MathyMcMatherso) is continuing the process of breaking down his assessment structure this week by describing what he calls Synthesis Skills. His concern about Standards Based Grading the way many approach it (skill based assessments) is that it doesn’t include any of the multi-topic, synthesis problems: “if I ignore problems like this, students begin to see mathematics as isolated chunks of knowledge and skills that aren’t necessarily inter-related.”
In my classroom I’ve taken these problems out of tests and quizzes and given them their own category called Investigations. Students complete the problems without a time limit, they are encouraged to collaborate and have opportunities to get feedback and resubmit. By the end of this process, I’m never sure exactly how much of the work is that individual student’s. Some days that’s fine: when research mathematicians solve problems they don’t do so in isolation. Other days I worry that few students are really getting everything they could be from the investigation, while I am dragging the others through the process: asking them questions rather than encouraging them to come up with their own questions and methods.
Where do multi-faceted, open ended problems appear in your classroom? How do they factor into a student’s grade?