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Self-marking spreadsheets for teaching excel formulae

Discussion in 'Computing and ICT' started by 1961templar, Jan 12, 2020.

  1. 1961templar

    1961templar New commenter

    I used self-marking spreadsheets years ago and found many students would go to great lengths to work out the answer and enter that as opposed to entering the formulae I was trying to teach them.

    I have now found the same issue working on supply using resources provided to me. Students become very upset and ask why their “correct” answers are not acceptable?

    Any thoughts or suggestions on this?

    Thank you.
  2. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    I would think that this revolves around the understanding of the pupils of the aim of the exercise. They seem to have understood that the answer is what you are interested in, not the formula. Once they've grasped the wrong end of the stick with enthusiasm, it's going to be a struggle to get them to change. So I suggest it all hinges on the briefing you give them.
  3. 1961templar

    1961templar New commenter

    I tried this with a year 7 class period 5 on Friday. I spent some time explaining formulae to them but as soon as they saw simple arithmetic they took the easiest option and the self-marking spreadsheets showed their answers as correct. I want to avoid this happening with other classes.
  4. GeordieKC

    GeordieKC Occasional commenter

    Of course the teacher will have issues if students answer a set of questions, the computer tells them they are correct and then the teachers says sorry they are all wrong!

    Best solution is to fix the self-marking spreadsheets, a couple of methods that may help do this. Firstly there is an isformula() function that can be used to check that a formula has been entered into the cell. Secondly add a very small amount to one of the numbers, so instead of 6 is 6.0000001 (even better if what you add is randomly generated, which means it is constantly changing) and then format that cell to show no decimal places; if anyone simply types what appears to be the answer rather the the formula then it will be marked wrong.

    If you can't alter the resource so it works properly or change it for a decent resource then be careful not to describe it as a self-marking spreadsheet and make it very clear to students before they start that even if the spreadsheet says an answer is correct it may be wrong. Ask them to get you to check the first few they do to make sure they are answering the questions correctly.
    1961templar likes this.
  5. moscowbore

    moscowbore Star commenter

    Or just teach formulas and ask the class to write a formula on a normal spreadsheet.
    Not sure I see the advantage of using a resource which you then need to modify.
  6. JaquesJaquesLiverot

    JaquesJaquesLiverot Established commenter

    The key is giving them an exercise where they have to change one of the variables, rather than just getting them to add up a list of numbers. Under the new National Curriculum it's unlikely that KS3 students will use a spreadsheet to meet a "challenging goal", so it's more likely to cover the "abstraction" bullet point, which is essentially the same as "modelling" in ICT.

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