Group quiz

Today was “quiz day” in every class.  Quiz day, like other days, means group work.  As far as I can tell, the only activity that students complete on their own are the chapter tests.  Otherwise, they are not only allowed but encouraged to use the other members of their group as a resource.  Depending on the class, they are also allowed to use the book and their notes.  Calculators are always acceptable, even on chapter tests.

Watching so many sections of group quizzes was very interesting.  Although students are generally on task pretty well, today they were all focused.  Not only that, but they seemed much more willing to work with one another.  Sometimes group work devolves into individual work.  This isn’t necessarily bad, but it does indicate that the problems are probably too easy.  Group quizzes are different, though.  Because it is expected that students work with one another, the questions posed tend to be more challenging.  And because students get a group grade for their quiz, they are motivated to make sure that everyone in the group has the correct answer (although they are not necessarily motivated to make sure they all understand).  There were some really great mathematical conversations going on, for the most part.

One group had never managed to find a way to work together during classwork.  Because of this, they struggled to work together during the quiz, and wasted some of their limited time arguing.  When I graded their quiz later, they missed several questions that I thought they should have been able to answer, given their individual performance over the last week.  After class, one of the students asked to be switched to another group.  He had not yet seen his grade, but he seemed to have reached the peak of frustration.  What I thought was really interesting about this request is that this same student had been disciplined earlier in the week twice for reading a book instead of doing his classwork.  He seems to be willing to put a lot of energy into not being part of the group.  I am curious to see how he does in a couple of weeks, when the group assignments are changed (they’re randomly reassigned every two weeks).

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