With the arrival of more advanced calculators (such as Wolfram Alpha), awarding points for correctness is becoming less feasible. What good does awarding points for a correct answer do if one could simply input the problem into a calculator and have the correct answer given to them? This issue is addressed in Teaching College Math’s blog post* Shifting Assessment in a World with WolframAlpha*.

In this blog post, a new form of assessment is suggested. Instead of asking students to arrive at an answer, simply give them the answer (along with the original question), and have them show how to (correctly) arrive at that answer. This takes the guess-work out of grading a problem with a correct answer and no work. This would also make problems more proof based and less computational, thus introducing proof concepts and integrating them into the work earlier in math curriculum.

I generally like the ideas presented in this blog. I think that having had the right answer before even starting the problem would have been helpful in seeing whether or not I was getting the right answer through my work. It would also force many students to take their learning more seriously, so they actually understand what is going on in their work, instead of simply knowing the shortcuts (in calculus, for instance). Finally, having been slowly introduced to proof techniques early on and building up to a class where proofs are the primary focus would have helped a lot (MATH 317 was not easy, for me at least).

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I love this idea. Let’s face it, most kids growing up hate math. I think if they actually understood what they were doing and why, rather than just seeing a bunch of red marks on their handed-back homework, kids would enjoy math more and do better.

I like this way of doing things as well. I may try to include more of these questions in my classes.