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Re: [Phys-L] Evaluation tests redux

I agree. I brought this up a few years ago on this list as I was looking
for placement test questions. I teach in high school, and some kids
(juniors/seniors) are just not ready for physics. It's not like biology
and chemistry. We have regular and honors as first year physics courses. I
give a "science reasoning survey" on the first day. They can use
calculators. I go over the results the next day and discuss implications
of their score (which I record but do not count for a grade -- they also
know this ahead of time). In past years every student who dropped the
class did poorly on the survey. The reverse was not always true -- every
student who did poorly did not always drop. I keep the surveys (as I do
all my tests) and can also show them to parents later if there are any
issues about placement, etc.

I don't like giving a "test" on the first day of school, but I'd rather
raise the red flags early than later. If you plan to do this sort of
thing, I highly recommend to do it in class. If done at home or online,
there will be integrity issues. Sure, they are only hurting themselves,
but having them do it in class gives a more accurate reflection of where
they are mathematically and conceptually. And then their scores can be a
"wake up call" for what the course will be about. And they can make better
decisions early on about whether they are in the right course (e.g.,
regular vs, honors, etc.) writes:
As we all prepare for the beginning of another school year, I believe
that JD's suggestion of an algebra placement test for physics is an
excellent thing to remember. Students who can't do algebra coming in
will not have time to learn physics or algebra, and we don't have time to
teach algebra in our physics classes.


-> -----Original Message-----
-> From: Phys-l [] On Behalf Of John
-> Sent: Saturday, December 14, 2013 12:59 PM
-> To:
-> Subject: Re: [Phys-L] Evaluation tests
-> Memo #1 from the keen-grasp-of-the-obvious department:
-> Give them an /algebra/ test. A poor algebra score is a strong
predictor of a
-> poor showing in the algebra-based physics course.
-> The converse is not necessarily true, but one-sided information
-> is better than none.
-> =======
-> Memo #2: It would be even better to give such a test as a placement
-> well /before/ the start of class, rather than after.
-> Students who are weak in algebra should be strongly discouraged from
-> enrolling in the physics course to begin with. This is waaaay better
-> enrolling and then dropping after it is too late to sign up for
something else.
-> You can put the test on the web, so that students can take it at home,
-> they are still deciding what to sign up for. Link to it from the
official course
-> description. Cheaters hurt only themselves. If necessary, you can
-> cheaters on Day One by giving a brief, similar test in class.
-> _______________________________________________
-> Forum for Physics Educators
Forum for Physics Educators