Friday, January 30, 2015

Refreshing Our App Survey Rubric

This week in Math 371, we spent our time revamping the app rubric survey made by the class a few years ago. We felt the old survey was a little vague and not all the questions applied to the specific type of app we might be reviewing. Our new survey includes a lot more branching than the original, since we wanted to make sure we were asking relevant question based on the kind of app. We now have separate sets of questions for apps that are games, resources or tools. While we easily agreed on the types of questions we wanted to ask, we had a tougher time wording our questions. We wanted to make sure our questions were worded as precisely as possible to avoid any confusion. This led to some lengthy discussion, but we finally created an outline of all the questions we want in our survey. Dr. Vestal is working on putting all of our questions into QuestionPro, and the only thing left for us to do is to decide how we want to score and weight each question. I can’t wait to see our final survey!

In other exciting news, we got to check out TI-Nspire CX CAS calculators this week! I've only had an hour or so to explore the calculator, but I’m thoroughly impressed by what I've seen so far. I’m amazed at the simple fact that I can graph in color with this calculator. This calculator even does things like evaluate indefinite integrals for me. I feel like I could spend the next year of my life playing around with this calculator and not know everything it’s capable of doing. From a teaching perspective however, I’m not sure it’s alright to give students a tool that does all kinds of work for them. Calculators can easily become a crutch for students. When they get to an exam or quiz where calculators aren't allowed, it becomes really clear who’s been relying on their calculators too much. Maybe we need to regulate the use of calculators and only let students use them after they show proficiency in doing the work by hand. On the other hand, if students do have access to calculators like these ones, maybe teaching students focuses less on computation and finding answers and more on applying knowledge to solve more complex, real-world problems. Next week, everyone in class is going to share interesting tools and applications they've found on the calculator, so I look forward to seeing more of what this calculator can do.