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Daskala expedites math evaluations

While many students dislike test-taking, others may particularly dread the time until their results are posted, wishing they could hurry the process to see their scores.

Math department head Mike Fenton has introduced Daskala to the math classes in order to address this time concern.

Daskala was created to help teachers administer tests and quizzes in a more efficient way, in addition to organizing and presenting the results. The website allows teachers to customize their own multiple-choice tests, and provides data regarding the test’s results.

Details of individual questions are addressed with information about the percentage of correct and incorrect answers, frequently missed questions, the percentage of which answers students chose and other statistics.

Fenton discovered Daskala at a California Mathematics Council conference in Asilomar during December 2009. He noticed the booth at the conference and was interested by the concept, he said.

“I saw the people at the booth giving a test on their website that I was familiar with, but I had only seen it in a paper format,” Fenton said. “I started to ask them questions and get more information about Daskala so I could hopefully use it in my classes.”

Since implementing Daskala in his classes, Fenton’s students have used the platform for a number of assignments. Senior Emily Schoettler finds Daskala practical and productive in her AP Statistics class.

“I think it is cool,” Schoettler said. “I like how it is convenient, electronic and useful. I get to know how I did on the test as soon as everyone has finished the test. It is very easy to use.”

Fenton has devised a strategy for using Daskala in math classes. He wants this tool to help the teachers improve their ability to determine their students’ progress, he said.

“This is what assessment is supposed to be: a way for us to understand how well we know the information and how we can improve our knowledge,” Fenton said. “Daskala is used to make this idea of assessment much easier to manage and less time-consuming.

“For example, grading each individual test and then turning that data into a spreadsheet so that I can show my students where they need to improve would take hours, while with Daskala it takes hardly any time at all.”

Despite its positive qualities, Fenton recognizes room for Daskala to improve. He appreciates the company’s consideration of his ideas to enhance the website.

“The only massive drawback is that it is only multiple-choice,” Fenton said. “I would like to see more open-ended questions. However, they [Daskala team] are amazing at getting back to me with ideas about how to fix this and other problems. It is a small company, so they are able to get stuff done.”

In addition to Fenton’s notions, some students who have used Daskala have ideas for its improvement. Pre-calculus student Jordan Boudreau, ’13, appreciates that Daskala allows him to take his tests on the computer, but he wishes it had more capabilities.

“I think it would be great if Daskala had tools on it; for example, if there was a calculator on it,” Boudreau said. “Then I could do all of my work on the computer instead of taking out my calculator and doing my work on there.”

After successfully using it for his math classess’ final exams last semester, Fenton plans to continue making Daskala a part of his classroom environment.

For more information on the math department, read the Jan. 11 article, AP Statistics completes ‘difficult’ first semester.

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