Interview with Ryan Kaiserman

Has SchoolBrains affected student work ethic and the way students think about grades?

I think SchoolBrains has shifted accountability from teachers to students. I get less people asking, ‘What’s my grade?’. I think that students were always interested in their grades, and SchoolBrains makes it easier to know. [It’s more] convenient.

It also has in so much as the conversations initiated by students are less like “What’s my grade” and more like ‘My grade is this, what can I do to change that?’. I’ve always had these conversations, but they are more student initiated.

How accurate is our grading system in reflecting student mastery of content?

I guess the numerical value doesn’t always give the whole picture of ability, but it tends to be a good indication. 

Do you think that more students are motivated by receiving a passing grade, rather than for the value of learning?

Some students are motivated by grades. Some are motivated by the pursuit of knowledge. I don’t think that having SchoolBrains has had much of an impact on that. 

Do you think that the nature of math makes it more naturally inclined to fit the current grading mold?

I think so. I think it does. I think we’ve put a lot of thought and effort into designing the formative and summative assessments, and [matching] them to the standards and framework of the [curriculum]. If a student earns a score of 80 percent its a good reflection, or at least a fairly good indication of a certain level of mastery of the content. 

How would you describe your experience with teaching math online? Do students find it helpful? Is it more or less conducive to effective teaching?

This is my first year and first experience with MyLab Math. I’d like to get feedback from students at the end of the year. Since we’re just piloting now, I’m not sure how I’d answer that. [I will say that] one of the nice things about MyLab Math is all the rich digital content; guided problems, tutorial videos, etc. [These] things are not available with the traditional textbook.