Mathematical Communication is a developing collection of resources for engaging students in writing and speaking about mathematics, whether for the purpose of learning mathematics or of learning to communicate as mathematicians.


Assessing student communication of mathematics

For a summary of how to create a grading rubric, see “How can I objectively grade something as subjective as communication?

Identifying and prioritizing assessment criteria before grading is important to prevent unintentional, subconscious bias, even in graders who consider themselves objective, as found by this study of hiring decisions based on criteria prioritized before/after learning about an applicant.
Uhlmann and Cohen, “Constructed Criteria: Redefining Merit to Justify Discrimination,” Psychological Science, Vol 16, No 6, pp. 474-480, 2005.

Further information about assessing mathematical communication is available in the following places on this site:

Furthermore, Supporting Assessment in Undergraduate Mathematics has many examples of having students write or talk about math to assess students’ understanding of math.

Assessing student communication (not specific to mathematics)

  • John C. Bean’s “Reading, Commenting On, and Grading Student Writing,” Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom Jossey-Bass, 2011, pp. 267-336.
    Clearly written and practical, with examples.
  • Edward M White’s Teaching and Assessing Writing: Recent Advances in Understanding, Evaluating, and Improving Student Performance, 2nd ed. Jossey-Bass, 1994. (Review by Lisa McClure)
  • Teaching Writing and Communication, MIT’s Writing, Rhetoric, and Professional Communication
    This webpage includes a section on providing feedback to students.

General assessment resources (for assessing students’ learning)

  • Supporting Assessment in Undergraduate Mathematics (SAUM) L. A. Steen, Ed., The MAA, 2006. (MAA Review)
    Resulting from an NSF funded project, this e-book includes many case studies of the development and use of assessment in undergraduate mathematics.
  • Assessment Practices in Undergraduate Mathematics, B. Gold, S. Z. Keith, W. A. Marion, Eds., MAA Notes #49, 1999.  (MAA Review)
  • Field-testing Learning Assessment Guide (FLAG) for science, math, engineering, and technology instructors
    “The FLAG offers broadly applicable, self-contained modular classroom assessment techniques (CATs) and discipline-specific tools for STEM instructors interested in new approaches to evaluating student learning, attitudes and performance. Each has been developed, tested and refined in real colleges and universities classrooms. The FLAG also contains an assessment primer, a section to help you select the most appropriate assessment technique(s) for your course goals, and other resources.”
  • Enhancing feedback (University of Edinburgh)
    This webpage provides general strategies for giving feedback and a subject-specific page for mathematics.

Assessing communication pedagogy and curricula

  • The first two articles below describe how to help a department conduct an outcomes-based assessment of a department’s communication curriculum. Carter (2003) describes how to identify departmental communication outcomes, while Anson and Dannels (2009) describe how to assess how well these outcomes are met by the department’s curriculum. The latter article includes an example of a departmental profile that results from this strategy. The profile includes recommendations for how to better meet the department’s identified outcomes (including revising those outcomes, as appropriate). The third article below (Anson, et al., 2012) uses two case studies to demonstrate how departmental outcomes can be applied to create assessment rubrics for specific contexts. The articles are written to an audience of communication educators.
  • Stassen et al., Course-Based Review and Assessment: Methods for Understanding Student Learning (pdf)
    This general resource for course-based assessment (specific to neither communication nor mathematics) guides educators through the process of developing course-based assessment strategies that help students learn, including identifying why and what to assess, defining the course goals and objectives, defining the focus of course-based assessment, identifying techniques to assess student learning, and understanding and using the assessment results.
  • Angelo, T. A. and Cross, K. P., Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers, 2nd Ed. Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1993.
    With examples from several disciplines, including mathematics, this book “is designed as a practical how-to-do-it handbook that college faculty members can use to assess the quality of teaching and learning in their own classrooms.” To help faculty identify their teaching goals, the book includes a 52-item Teaching Goals Inventory that is based on the teaching goals of thousands of faculty from a variety of institutions. To help faculty assess how well they meet their goals, the book provides strategies for assessing course-related knowledge and skills; for assessing learner attitudes, values, and self-awareness; and for assessing learner reactions to instruction.


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