Spent part of this weekend reading Thomas Angelo and Patricia Cross's classic "Classroom Assessment Techniques". I want to redesign my course to get rid of the essay/MC Exam every unit rut I am in. I still like that the focus of the essay assignments is data gathering from the web and application, but they are ultimately boring and only the best students do well on them.
Students always have trouble reading the economics textbooks, so I am going to try to use the discussions and the idea of punctuated lectures (CAT 38) and student generated test questions (CAT 25) to get them to stop reading periodically and figure out what they do and do not understand. For the first couple of units I can ask each student to post one or two questions from each chapter in the text to the discussion board. They then will be required to answer 1 or two of another student's questions.
That would take care of the majority of the discussions for the first two units, although I still want to include my own questions to help them move through the material. Unit 1's "Where's the Data" assignment can turn into a scavenger hunt. That will make it fast to grade and still support the outcome -- ability to locate economic data online.
I like the idea of an analysis and application paper in the form of a policy recommendation letter to a member of Congress (CAT 12) And I think I can use the pro and con grid (CAT 10) first to make that a scaffolded assignment. (Unit 3 I think).
This gets me to Units 4 and 5. I like the ideas behind CAT 27, Paper or Presentation Prospectus. I also like the idea of asking students to do a very short 5 or 6 slide presentation, the Pecha Kucha format to some extent, 5 minute time limit. In Unit 4 they could turn in the presentation prospectus (includes topic, title, sources, outline, grading rubric, abstract). Then in Unit 5 they could turn in the presentation via Voice Thread, with the transcript for back up. This is essentially the idea Karen Kaemmerling had for the GEO 105 course, but more detail in the prospectus.
And of course I still have discussions in Units 3-5. And some sort of quick MC/short answer exam in each unit. (Might skip that in Unit 4 because it's so short.) If I were inspired I would choose the short answer questions from the discussions, but that requires me to be pretty nimble. Not sure I can really guarantee that.
Is this adding up to too much work for students?
Also reading "Inspired College Teaching" by Maryellen Weimer, so we'll see what that brings. I need some choice for students in this course - she is very good at that.