I am giving a presentation, “Introductory Projects in College Algebra and Calculus: Pulling It Off“, at the AMATYC Conference in Jacksonville. This presentation will take place on Saturday from 2:30 to 3:20PM. I will be talking about two projects, College Costs 2 and Medical Insurance 3.
I use the College Costs 2 project as the first project in College Algebra. Medical Insurance 3 is the first project in Survey of Calculus. Because these are first projects, students need many scaffolding resources in the form of technology assignments. The links above contain all of the technology assignments for these projects. They are administered over a five-week period at the beginning of the semester. In past semesters, I have required students to turn in technical memos. In this type of document, students explain the strategy used to solve the problem in the project and carry out this strategy. Students often turn in huge numbers of pages without really solving the problem If you have large numbers of students, it is not feasible to grade large numbers of technical memos…each one with large page counts. This semester I am assessing students by having them complete research posters. These posters retain many of the pieces in a technical memo, but in a single area (56 inches by 48 inches) with a specific font size. Here is a sample poster for the College Costs 2 project.
This format requires students to be very precise in their descriptions. There is no room for 5 or 6 graphs or long-winded descriptions. This makes them much easier to grade and even allows for a simple peer review process. Here is a sample of a student poster submitted for the Medical Insurance 3.
So far, I am very pleased with the research posters. More on the research posters and the peer review process in a later post.