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.
In part I, I began describing some of the nuts and bolts of implementing specs grading. In part II, I’ll finish describing some of the finer details of the system, and also discuss how MBT fits naturally into a specs system.
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.