Sunday, September 30, 2012

Greek and Roman Mythology MOOC: Quiz #1

I finished watching the lectures, about 90 minutes in total, yesterday and attempted the first quiz.  The lectures were a lot of background information explaining what myth was for the ancients as well as some modern theorists; and then an introduction to the world of Homer and a close reading of the first 10 lines of Homer's Odyssey. I did not take notes on the lectures, in part because the information was either the sort that I can quickly look up or already knew.  As a professional classicist (albeit one who has never taught myth and whose research doesn't tend to touch much on aspects of mythology), I felt pretty confident.

I scored a 16.2/20 on the first quiz.  I was a little embarrassed.  I quickly realized that I should have taken notes on the lectures about ancient and modern views of myth.  There were several very detailed questions about that information that I struggled to recall.  Partly, I was a little surprised to be asked such detailed, factual questions that weren't really about my ability to think but purely recall data.  I don't tend to ask these sorts of questions so was unprepared for them.  A great reminder that it is important to prepare students for the way you are going to test them (in this case, we could retake the quiz 3 times with no penalty). 

Today I reviewed the two lectures with the details I had missed on the quiz and took notes. I also reviewed my first quiz.  I am pretty sure there was a problem with the quiz--or at least a very poorly worded question.  I missed it the first time but, when I retook the quiz, I gave the same answer the second time (because I am sure that it is the correct one), and still missed it.  So got a 19/20.  I retook the quiz a third time, just for fun, and had several new questions.  Most of them were the sort of details I know from my general work in classics.  But again, I was taken aback by a question about the size of Homer's army.  I am not sure what the correct answer is and I didn't remember it from the lecture.  It seemed like a nitpicky question and not a hugely important one.  It also didn't reflect what had actually been the focus of the lecture, which was Helen as the face that launched a thousand ships. 

I did learn some helpful things: a. having questions with multiple answers is a good idea (I will do this for my own exams, perhaps next fall); b. it is essential to think about what skills you are trying to encourage your students to develop.  After this quiz, students will be scribbling down every word because it is too difficult to tell what is and isn't going to show up on the quiz.  c. retaking quizzes with a randomizer is a fantastic idea and a very effective learning tool.  If I do end up designing an online class, I will definitely make good use of weekly quizzes like this.

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