Friday, July 28, 2006

Survey Says...

My summer geometry students are taking their final exams right now, so I have some time to post. I gave them a survey (like a course evaluation) that included questions about the homework and note-taking policies I established. Here are the results:

How often did you do your homework?
a. Almost every night 6%
b. Most of the time 17%
c. Sometimes 44%
d. Rarely 22%
e. Never 11%

Hmm... that's not so good. At least they're being honest. Which leads in to the next question...

The daily quizzes were used instead of checking the homework. How did this affect your decision to do homework?
a. It made me more likely to do my homework 18%
b. It was about the same as if homework was being checked and graded 65%
c. It made me less likely to do my homework 18%

Ok, so there didn't seem to be much strong feeling either way. However, it did seem to me that less homework was being done with the daily quiz method.

In your next math class, what do you think would encourage you the most to do your work?
a. Homework checked every day for completeness, but not graded 44%
b. Homework checked every day, and given a grade 33%
c. Homework not checked, but a daily quiz given based on the homework 17%
d. Homework not checked, no daily quizzes – just regular quizzes and tests 6%

This didn't really make sense to me. Based on the results of the previous questions, I would have thought that most students would have picked option b. I showed them these results and asked them about it - some said they didn't understand the question. I probably should have asked something like "Under which option will you be most likely to do your homework".

a. Yes, a lot. 61%
b. A little bit 33%
c. Not really 6%

That's encouraging. I couldn't always tell if they were actually learning from the explorations; they were (at least, according to my highly scientific survey!)

Was it helpful to you to use the 3-column note-taking template?
a. Yes, a lot 72%
b. A little bit 28%
c. Not really 0%

Did the organization system for your binder make it easier for you to find your notes?
a. Yes 89%
b. No 11%

Well, that's good news! See my previous posts about the issues around note-taking and conceptual structure of the binder if you want more info. This means that I am definitely going to use this method in my Algebra 2 class this fall. There were definitely some problems - for example, I didn't devote actual class time to working on their summary sheets, which would have been helpful. I also let them organize each binder section however they wanted, but when I looked through them to assess their work, I realized that more guidance will be really helpful - at least for the first semester.

The 3-column note-taking template is broken down as follows:
On the top, students write the lesson name and essential question, as well as what section of their binder the lesson belongs in. The three columns are "concepts", "examples", and "background information". And that's it. It's quite simple, but it really seemed to help some of my students organize their notes more clearly. It also helped me organize my lessons more clearly, because when I was developing a direct instruction piece of a lesson, I would think in terms of these columns, and write my lecture notes that way. The difference between concept, example, and background info is pretty clear to me, but I realized it's not necessarily clear to the students. When I do this for a year-long class, I hope to be able to scaffold away from putting notes on the board in the 3-column format, and start having students decide for themselves where information belongs.

How often did you look up notes and examples in your binder when you were stuck?
a. Usually 6%
b. Often 39%
c. Sometimes 56%
d. Never 0%

They are still DCP students, after all. Baby steps... At least no one said "never"! I have to do some more explicit activities (and assessments) focused around having students use their notes. I'm still not sure how to build the ethic of looking something up when you are stuck, instead of immediately asking someone for help, or giving up.

What would you like for breakfast before the final?
a. Bagels 61%
b. Donuts 39%

And now we know. The donut faction was much more vocal, but the bagelites had some strong grassroot support. Thanks go to my favorite bagel place. Note: students apparently only like plain cream cheese - don't try to get all fancy on them. I thought they would like jalapeno because they are always eating hot cheetos, but of course they didn't, and I had to hear that classic DCP line - "It's because we're Mexican!".