Authentic assessment for advanced undergraduate students

D. G. Mallet

Abstract


A novel assessment program was implemented in an upper level mathematical modelling subject for a small group of advanced undergraduate students of applied mathematics and engineering. The students were all enrolled in undergraduate degree programs at the selective private colleges, Harvey Mudd College and Pitzer College, in California. The subject was called Mathematics and Sport and introduced the students to various techniques and strategies of mathematical modelling and related research using a number of interesting applications of mathematics to sports. The assessment program was designed to provide the students with authentic activities preparing them for their future work as graduate students and researchers. The program included a mock ``conference day'' for which students prepared papers and presented a seminar. The written paper and the seminar were scaffolded by instruction in such writing and presentation as well as activities to encourage free thinking and creative interpretation of problems throughout the semester. The assessment scheme proved to be both popular with students and effective, in that continuous components prepared the students for the requirements of terminating assessment items. The students' papers proved to be well-written, thoughtful and, to some extent, illustrated the students' development as researchers over the course of the subject. Unfortunately, the oral presentations were not of the same high standard for a number of reasons including the level of instruction in this subject and also previous experience in presenting orally. This article offers a description of the novel assessment program and the results of its implementation in order to provide guideposts for others confronted with similar student groups.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21914/anziamj.v47i0.1060



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ANZIAM Journal, ISSN 1446-8735, copyright Australian Mathematical Society.