While browsing Dylan Kane’s Building Conic Sections activity, I got to thinking about assessment.

We can all probably agree that one of the main challenges with online assessment, especially now that everyone is sheltering in place for the foreseeable future (our school has closed its doors at least through the end of the 19-20 school year), is how to ensure that what a student submits as their own work is actually from their own brain, and thus a representation of their own understanding.

So, what if instead of having a problem where everyone submits the same answer (and everyone else’s responses are hidden), have a problem where everyone submits a different answer (and everyone else’s responses are published)?

If you take a look at Dylan’s slides, the student is asked to find a conic section that separates the blue points from the red points. In slide 2, for example, there are an infinite number of circles that achieve this goal.

My question/idea: Is it possible to require each student to submit a unique circle? I imagine that when they finally find an equation that achieves the goal, they would then be able to see everyone else’s responses. Either Desmos would automatically compare their graph to all other prior submissions, or the student would be asked to confirm that their equation is unique. At the end of the day, it is actually more important that they complete the exercise of analyzing their equation in comparison to the others, than it is that their equation is truly unique.

That’s a lot to unpack. I appreciate any thoughts/feedback/hints/discussion you can offer. Thanks!