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Assessing Mathematics using interactive items in France

In France, the teaching of mathematics has a double objective. The first is aimed at acquiring knowledge and the necessary methods for each student to be able to build a personal, professional and citizen future and to prepare for further training. The second one refers to developing cross-curricular skills (autonomy, taking initiatives, adaptability, creativity, discipline …) and the six major competences in mathematics: searching, modelling, representing, calculating, reasoning and arguing.

Problem-solving is a framework dedicated to develop, modelize and combine several of these skills. However, in order to take initiatives, to think of possible solutions and to engage accordingly without drifting, the student needs to have evaluation exercises designed to meet this objective.

Interactive items meet these specifications. They are items in which the students interact in a given situation so as to analyze a problem. In fact, they facilitate the intellectual work by freeing the mind from the challenge of the technical implementation (using instrumental geometry, arithmetic practice…) and by enlarging the field of approaches likely to be used. In order to generate these reflexes, one needs to directly implement basic procedures linked to each of the six competences, which themselves underlie exercises with defined objectives. The exercises and questions included in the different interactive items will engage these reflexes in a balanced way and they may even be observed through the analysis of the generated log data. In other words, this procedure gives us the possibility to collect more than just the answer in a digital format. The log data traces the student’s pathway as he attempts to answer the question: the time at which the student starts and stops his work, the movement of the mouse, the use of the different tools, idle time and even a screen shot of the last actions. 

In May 2016, the DEPP (the statistical department of the French Ministry of Education) used a few of these items for the first time with students in Grade 9 and the analysis of the generated log data was carried out. First results of this analysis produced very rich and interesting observations with respect to the strategies used by students in solving the interactive questions. In a further step in May 2017, this work was conducted on a larger scale in collaboration with the French national Institute of Statistics (INSEE) and the findings are yet to be explored. Such information can provide excellent feedback to the educational community (teachers, researchers and policy-makers) as to the student’s understanding of how maths problem are solved. DEPP intends to pursue its efforts in such analyses in order to better understand the strategies used by students when they learn Mathematics.

For more information about the results and the project, please contact: Philippe Arzoumanian (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Office for Student Assessment, DEPP, Ministry of Education, France.