Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Geography, Part 2

You may recall that earlier in the semester I gave the students in my African Literature class a map quiz, which expected them to identify all 54 countries in Africa. They had a second chance to take the quiz on Sunday and here are the results.

For this version, there were only 53 countries rather than 54 (because the Cape Verde Islands were cut off from the map I used). Eight students took the quiz. One took it for the first time and did well. Four, who scored in the 30s the first time around, retook it and scored between 48 and 53. Three, who did well on the first quiz, took it again just for fun. Seriously. Of those, one improved from 52/54 to a perfect score. Another improved by two points and another got one point less. (I only counted their highest score so there was no harm in taking it again.) So I am pleased to say that in the final results, everyone in the class got a score in the mid-40s to mid-50s, mostly on the high end. For a literature professor, this is a unique instance of being able to quantify learning. Yay, geography.

On reflection, I should have required all of the students to retake the quiz, even those who performed well back in February. It would have been fascinating to track students’ retention. I was chatting with a couple of students who scored perfectly the first time around and they estimated they would have scored about ten points lower now without practicing, which is still, they said, significantly better than they did at the beginning of the term before practicing. For studying, most have been using different kinds of websites where they could practice and be tested in a similar exercise.

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