Friday, January 29, 2010

I Love Me Some ExamView

I spent the last two days on school business building a set of common formative assessments in ExamView that are aligned to my department's skills list for our algebra and pre-algebra classes. Many of the questions are dynamic which means that for any given question type, multiple versions of the question can be created by the click of a button. As I was looking through the question banks, I realized that there were some skills that didn't have questions that fit what we will be trying to assess. Solution? Build it yourself.

The process is a bit tedious at first, but I was able to use previously made questions to figure out how to build a simple question regarding slope.

Step 1: Define your algorithms.

Step 2 : Create a graph using pre-defined variables.

Step 3: Define the distractors.

Yeah, gotta say I love this feature. Finding questions with good distractors is tough at best. But if you decide on an algorithm based on common misconceptions, you're good to go. In this problem, I decided the common misconceptions for students calculating slope based on a graph were:
  • Using Run/Rise instead of Rise/Run
  • Confusing negative with positive slope
  • Confusing the y-intercept with the slope
Of course, there may be some discussion on what the best misconceptions would be, but for the sake of practicing, those are what I went with.
Step 4: Decide how many of these type of question you want in your assessment.

I'm glad that I don't have to build all of these from scratch, but I like the fact that filling in the holes isn't too tough.


Kate said...

I believe the appropriate Internet syntax is "Ah Lurves Me Some Examview".

Thank you for posting this - we have Examview but I only use the prepackaged textbook questions, I never wrote new ones. It _would_ be a good way to store a bank of questions for retesting.

Jason said...

I've gotta say that I'm totally on the ExamView bandwagon for just this feature. I don't really like the way the test looks, but I love way I can define problems and have ExamView give me a new one every time.

One thing that I've discovered the hard way, is that it's a good idea to include in your algorithm definitions a constraint that says something like "isunique(answer, distractor1, distractor2, distractor3)". For sufficiently complex algorithms, sometimes good distractors are so good that they turn out to be the same as the answer. This constraint won't allow that to happen.

Cal Armstrong said...

I haven't worked with ExamView before... does it have to be a multiple choice question or can you just ask them to type in the slope and have it grade the value.
I use MapleTA, which allows the same algorithmic approach to designing the question (and it's a challenge to get the answers to be nice for beginning levels) but the "answer" can be any numeric or algebraic expression or graph.

David Cox said...

Dangit! You mean Ah mussed me a chance to show some lurve?

I've played with ExamView for a few years, but started learning more about it in the last year. I think it can be very powerful when it comes to retesting, for sure. In fact, I just wrote 78 skills tests over the last two days for our two classes. I plan on creating an html study guide, free response study guide, pre test, post test and multiple retest versions all off of the same original.

I didn't use "isunique" but I did include "if(answer=distractor1,false,true), but I can definitely see how "isunique" can work if there is a chance that more than one of the distractors can be equal to the correct answer. Thanks for the tip.

If the questions are created as bimodal, you can take away the multiple guesses and still have a dynamic question. If the test is exported to .html, it will grade students' numeric responses.

Kate said...

I don't know why it never occurred to me before just what a good thing it would be to set up all my quizzes in Examview so I could quickly generate re-tests. Another project for the todo list. Realizing it would be really convenient to have a printer in my room, too.

This was a needed kick in the pants, Dave. Thanks.

David Cox said...

That's why I'm here, Kate.

The nice thing is that most of te textbook companies have fairly good questions that come pre-made. But if you are looking for a particular type of question, making it yourself once dynamically saves a bunch of time later.

The thing I'm trying to figure out is how to best organize the retest option in my classes.

Kate said...

If you say more about what you mean by "organize," I might be able to help.

This semester I'm going to have kids sign up for after-school a day ahead of time, so I can have retakes pre-printed out for them. (Which is why it would be nice to whip them up in Examview.) And, I'm going to try to cap it at like 12. I'm using this so they can sign up and sharing this so they can tell if I'm available after school the day they want.

Sarah Cannon said...

I never knew how to make my own dynamic questions! I mean, I guess I never looked. I only ever used ExamView for the final exam that I had to grade everyone's in one day. This makes me excited about the program for real.

David Cox said...

Yeah, I knew they could be done but just got interested in actually making questions recently. Tim Fahlberg has put together some "how to" tutorials on the math247 wiki.

David Cox said...

By organized, I mean having a system in place for kids to get the help and reassessment they need during class. We have 94 minute blocks, so any intervention should technically take place in class. Our current assessments were pre packaged and aligned to our standards. They're actually good tests, but it's tough to tell where a student actually needs help because one test may cover up to 4 of our skills. Hence, the need to re write the tests to suit our department needs.

Being that I'm teaching the advanced classes, I view the standards as basic skills and would like to invert the class more (ie. watch examples online, do online study guide, assess) and use class time for proble
solving/projects and having those cool conversations ending in group hugs. I've got a ton of online examples for kids to view, but haven't done a good job of structuring my expectations.(post probably forthcoming on that)