Marking over

So, the marking is over.

Once I recover I will start writing my feedback document for the students. As usual, I will embed quite a lot of comments in the model answers, because I know that the model answers document is, at least, viewed by many more students than view the separate, official, feedback document.

There was, as usual, huge variation in the performances. Perhaps I can still do a bit more to address some of the more popular misunderstandings (e.g. about what countability is all about). A few more examples to vote on might do the trick!

I have obtained feedback from the students via the official feedback system, and also by a Google form. Some students found the module much too easy. Some found it much too hard. This may correlate with the fact that there were some superb performances in the exam, and others that were, shall we say, less than superb. Overall, I could persuade myself that the students may, on average, have understood a bit more this year than in the past. I’ll give some more detailed comments when I have recovered!

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3 responses to “Marking over

  1. I was a student in this session’s G11FPM class, so I feel as though my take on this might be appreciated.

    It would be interesting to get some statistic on what proportion of the students had taken at least a good look at the full contents of the module before, say, the beginning of October (where by “a good look” I mean a bit more than just reading the syllabus on the module page). Comparing this number (if one could ever acquire it with any accuracy) to the number of students in some percentile of the results might shed new light on, for example, which topics to put extra emphasis on in the lectures.

    I doubt that this phenomenon is new to you: have you ever been able to find out such a statistic? If so, were any conclusions able to be drawn?

    Part of the reason I ask is because I did very well in this module, but I put that down, in large part, to the amount of reading that I do: I like to learn from books, and I was familiar with large chunks of the module material before I even arrived in Nottingham (that’s not to say that I learned nothing in those twenty-odd lectures – on the contrary, I still learned a lot from you (!); but things were obviously made easier due to my background reading).

    For the record, I can’t recall if I mentioned anything related to any of this on the feedback form – I don’t think I did. As a student, I’d be happy to hear if this is the kind of information that you, as a lecturer, would like to receive on feedback forms – though if it is then I should certainly be more concise there than I was here!

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  2. Thanks for the comments!
    I don’t have the data you mention. My habit (which may not necessarily be a good one) is to put extra emphasis on those topics which were most misunderstood by the previous year’s class. This sometimes means I spend extra time on material that some students find relatively easy. (I always get some comments in the feedback along the lines of “Spends too long on easy material.”) Moreover I haven’t had much success, as far as I can see, with the most common problems. The comments on the exam performances do make for somewhat repetitive reading year after year.

    If I had to make a guess on how many students actually started reading up on the G11FPM material before October, I would go for “very few”. I think that a significant number of students still try to tackle G11FPM as if it was A level, learning how to do certain routine types of question very fast, but not necessarily trying to understand everything that I talk about in classes. I try to explain the difference at the start of the module, but I don’t think I manage to convince the people who need to be convinced! Moreover, if you only want to pass this module, rather than gain strong foundations for pure maths, then the A level approach is, at least in the short term, less work. A significant number of students are already thinking in terms of what they need to do in order to graduate with a 2.1.

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  3. Thanks very much for your response!

    The (short-term) effectiveness of the A-level approach in getting “good enough” results is interesting: it suggests that a way to counteract this mentality might be to ramp up the pace and add some extra material, but this is clearly far too dangerous – it would probably just result in a very large number of surprised students simply being unable to keep up, both in FPM and in subsequent pure modules.

    I understand that in previous years all of the module exams were at the end of the year: did that system help or hinder results in comparison to the current system, or is it too soon to say? Perhaps some change of emphasis in other modules might also help; for example, changing up G11CAL to put a bit more emphasis on the related analysis might help convince students to get out of the A-level mindset, but I have no idea how this might be done in a helpful manner.

    Of course, I’m assuming here that this kind of mindset is also unhelpful to the students’ understanding of more applied modules, like APP and PRB.

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