# Monthly Archives: February 2012

## More on significant figures

I’ve said before that students are not good at giving answers to an appropriate number of significant figures. But what do they do wrong? The question shown on the left provides some insight. The correct three options are B, C … Continue reading

## Significant figures and rounding

I’ve posted before about the difficulties students seem to have with significant figures and rounding. This post adds some data, to give you an appreciation of the size of the problem. The data are for the question shown on the left … Continue reading

## Scientific notation

The question shown on the right is quite well answered even though it is on the formative-only practice assessment. Errors when they do occur are mostly as I’d have predicted – 4.5% of responses give the wrong sign in the power … Continue reading

## Is the answer 6, 9, 300 or 11809.8?

It was the analysis of question such as the one above that led to one of my early insights into mathematical misunderstandings. I discovered then that a common answer to this question was 11809.8. This is caused by students finding 310 and then … Continue reading

## More about guessing and blank/repeated responses

Depressingly, this post reports a similar finding to the last one. For the  question shown (which is one of a series of linked questions on the Maths for Science  formative-only practice assessment), 62% of students are right at the first attempt … Continue reading

## ‘A nice demonstration of a problem with multiple-choice questions’

That was my husband’s comment when we were analysing responses to the question shown on the left. Start by noting that although this is a drag and drop question it is indeed effectively a multiple-choice (or multiple-response) question – you can … Continue reading

## Formative or summative logarithms

I’ve posted before about the fact that whilst students usually engage quite well with formative-only iCMA questions, when the going gets tough, they are inevitably more likely to guess than is the case when the mark counts. When I eventually get … Continue reading

## Making Assessment Count

I attended another JISC ‘webinair’ yesterday. These provide a wonderful opportunity to keep up to date with developments in assessment for minimal outlay of time (one hour) and at no cost. Today’s webinair featured Gunter Saunders from the University of … Continue reading

## Confusing letters – a distance-learning problem

I spend a lot of time arguing, especially in the context of students’ mathematical misunderstandings, that the Open University’s mostly mature distance-learning students are not that different from students at conventional universities. However we have a few difficulties that others … Continue reading