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“How can you do coursework for maths?” What I marked this year

A while ago I was helping out at an open day. The material presented gave some information about the range of assessment types we use. A potential applicant asked me “how can you do coursework for maths?”. She felt that (what she understood as) maths could only be assessed by examination. (This is presumably because her experience of the English school system has not exposed her to anything but exams for maths.)

I thought it might be interesting (to me, at least) to list the types of assessment I’ve been involved in marking in the 2015/16 academic year.

These are not all of my invention (i.e. some are things I made up in teaching I ran, others are pieces I delivered as part of some else’s design). In no particular order (numbers are approximate):

  • 120 short individual tests (four tests times thirty students) — a series of short, unconnected questions;
  • 16 multiple-choice tests;
  • 32 group activities (four activities times eight groups) — students had to solve a slightly open-ended question as a group and I marked them on the written description of their solution and how well they had communicated and worked as a group during the task;
  • 266 short individual courseworks — well, one was not particularly short, but they were all a series of short, unconnected questions;
  • 30 in-depth individual courseworks — this had a series of connected and increasingly open-ended questions to investigate a topic;
  • 6 group essays — students worked in groups to research history of maths topics and wrote their findings as a short (500 word) essay plus a brief (100 words) account of their estimation of the reliability of the sources they used; they did this formatively weekly for half a term before handing one in summatively;
  • 25 individual history of maths essays — topic of student’s choice (with agreement);
  • 15 group presentations accompanied by two-page handouts — this was to describe the findings of an open-ended group investigation;
  • 25 group project plans and minutes of 75 group meetings — for the above investigation;
  • 99 self- and peer- reflections on contribution to group work — for the same;
  • 36 reflective personal statements discussing career plans, skills relevant to those and ethical issues;
  • 10 individual presentations — interim reports on final year projects;
  • 6 dissertations — final reports of year-long final year projects, each with a corresponding viva;
  • 4 group presentations — to report on findings of a semester-long, open-ended group investigation;
  • 16 group posters — to report on the above investigations;
  • 1 group report — report of the same;
  • one quarter of the questions on 200 group-marked exam scripts (two exams).

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