Streamlining the logistics of MBT

Happy 2017! I escaped the snow and ice of the Atlanta Joint Mathematics Meetings for the wind and cold (and snow) of northwest Iowa. While at JMM, I had a nice discussion with a few Gold ’14 dots about their implementations of MBT, and as a result, I decided to write a post about how I manage the logistical side of things in my MBT (and often specifications graded) courses, and share some of the resources I’ve developed.

My goal in managing the logistics has always been to make things as simple as possible for me. That might sound selfish, but it’s really more about self-preservation. Your mileage may vary when implementing any of the ideas/tools below, and that’s okay! You need to find the system that works for you and the students in your classes at your institution. Here are some general principles and ideas that have worked for me.

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Cranking MBT up to 11 with Specifications Grading (Part I)

I first implemented MBT in a Calculus I course in the spring of 2015 and realized, as Austin writes, that MBT is “self-evidently better” than traditional, points-and-partial-credit-based testing. I’ve used some form of MBT in every course since then.

Around the same time, a friend retweeted Robert Talbert of Grand Valley State University that made reference to “specifications grading”, a system proposed by Linda Nilson (I would strongly recommend you read her book if you are thinking of implementing specs grading). With my mind already opened to the possibility of alternative grading systems, I took the plunge and read several of his blog posts, then at the Chronicle of Higher Education, and now hosted on his own site. To be clear, most of what I have learned about implementing specs grading in a math course, I have learned from reading him. But in this post and the next, I’ll do my best to explain how the system works, and how naturally MBT fits into such a course.

Continue reading “Cranking MBT up to 11 with Specifications Grading (Part I)”