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Potential way to beat the SBSG end of semester death march by using assessment phases

A typical way to set up SBSG with reassessment is to allow students to reassess on those Learning Targets at any point all the way up through the end of the semester.

  • Pros: More true to the spirit of SBSG because the grade shows what students were eventually able to master; lowers stress by giving the entire semester to reassess
  • Cons: Almost always results in a crush of student reassessment at the end of the semester due to procrastination and/or students needing many attempts to pass a Target.

It's possible that students who "need" lots of attempts to pass a learning target would pass it earlier if the deadline for passing weren't so late; placing tighter limitations on the time frame for reassessment might inject more energy and purpose into student preparation for reassessment.

Proposal: Split the semester up into a small number of "phases". Each phase focuses on a subset of the Learning Targets. When the phase comes to an end, no more reassessment on those learning targets is permitted without spending tokens.

Example: Let's say you have 32 learning targets in your course, which is 15 weeks long. Split up the course into four phases with 8 Learning Targets per phase: Phase 1 runs weeks 1-3 and focuses on targets 1--8; Phase 2 runs weeks 4--6 and focuses on targets 9--16; Phase 3 runs weeks 7--10 and focuses on targets 17--24; and Phase 4 runs weeks 10--14 and focuses on targets 25--32. The final week is for review.

During Phase 1, students may assess and reasses as often as they want on targets 1--8 (through whatever means you have set up in the course -- for me that's short quizzes, with oral reattempts allowed). The deadline to pass Learning Targets 1--8 is the last day of week 4 (so the later Learning Targets introduced at the end of week 3 have an extra week for reassessment). Once that deadline is past, no more reassessments are allowed on these Learning Targets unless students spend a token, one token per reassessment attempt. Reassessment attempts that are "out of phase" can be done at any time during the semseter but they cost one token each.

Similarly, students can assess/reassess freely on targets 9--16 as often as they want during phase 2 (weeks 4--6). But then any reassessment after the end of that phase (which we can define as the end of week 7) costs a token. Again that's one token per attempt, so students really have to buckle down and study if they want to avoid wasting a token.

So this creates four potential situations during the semester where students may want to cram a bunch of reassessments in, but the theory is that each of these would involve much fewer learning targets. So the end-of-semester death march is four times a frequent but potentially less than 1/4 as much to handle, so the workload is overall lower. Also by limiting reassessment, it forces students to get the work done in the same proximity as the material was covered rather than waiting until the end.

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