Problem Sets & Problems on Tests

Commonly, problem sets and problems on tests focus students' attention on two types of learning tasks: 

  • generating the entire quantitative solution to a pre-modeled problem or
  • generating an entire computer program or 
  • deriving or proving a quantitative relationship. 

The list below includes variations on these traditional themes:  tasks designed to focus students' attention on specific mental processes involved in problem solving, such as planning the solution process, understanding the solution process, making plausible estimates, planning to verify models with measurements, and convincing audiences that the results are sufficiently accurate.

Ideas for Learning Tasks (i.e., Assignments) that Support Assessment

  • Solve the pre-modeled problem and report the quantitative answer
  • Write a computer program to accomplish a specified task
  • Derive or prove a quantitative relationship
  • Describe the solution process (e.g., set up a system of equations or describe the sub-routines of a program), without solving
  • Verbally explain one aspect of the solution process
  • Identify, explain, and fix flaws in an existing solution
  • Explain (verbally and mathematically) the process for arriving at an estimate
  • Describe measures that could plausibly be used to verify the solution 
  • Design visual displays of information pertinent to the solution
  • Persuade a decision-making audience that the solution is reasonable and sufficiently accurate

Making Scoring/Grading Useful for Assessment