Assessments for CS Principles

June 19, 2012 at 3:38 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

           A quite week with no professional obligations provides time to reflect on the past year. Academic year 2011-2012 has been an interesting year and one with tremendous growth.

            Teaching CS Principles has been a paradigm shift for me and I have grown a lot both as a teacher as well as a computer science student. I had created several types of tests and quizzes for my class. Given that my course was extensively project based most of my tests were around projects. Every project had a rubric that the students followed as a guide. However, for our mid-semester and end of the year finals I was required to create multiple choice questions.

            I created about 40 multiple-choice questions from which I gave about 20 during the finals. It was hard creating these! I based them on logic and reasoning and on the CS Principles – Big Ideas.  As I reflect I am not so sure about the value of these questions. What purpose do multiple-choice questions serve? In an ideal world probably they are intended to test to see if a student truly understands a concept. So in the context of CS Principles, the questions would test a student’s comprehension of the Big Ideas.  I think it should be necessary to add some programming / pseudocode based multiple-choice questions to asses students programming capability.

            Aman Yadav has done some good work on creating assessments for computational thinking. Check out his page:  http://cs4edu.cs.purdue.edu/comp_think.  I am going to use this resource to create some more questions for the upcoming year.

            It does look like at the end of my rambling I am inclined to believe that multiple choice questions have to be a part of the CS Principles assessments.

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