How do I Take Online Quizzes in Math 106?
Using the
online testing system
__________
Basic
procedures:
The testing
system is located at http://msenux.redwoods.edu/optimath (use the link for section E0105)
The first
page of the testing site contains a list of course sections using the
system. Click on the link for your section (corresponding to your
course and instructor) to take you to your section login page. You also
may want to bookmark this page on your browser.
Login
page: Your login name is just like the one that you use for
WebAdvisor and Blackboard: first
initial + last name + last three digits of your student ID#. For
example, if your name is John Doe and your student ID# is 1234567, then
your login name is jdoe567. Your initial password is your
full 7-digit student ID#, but you can (and should) change it once you log in.
After you
log in, you have just five options (each of these options is explained
in more detail below):
- Choose
Assignment to take online.
- View
Assignment Results (includes your answers, the correct
answers, and solutions).
- Change
password
- Email
your instructor
- Log
out
Important:
Do not use the "Back" and "Forward" buttons on your browser when you
are using the testing system. If you do, you will be immediately logged
out of the system. Instead, use the links on each page to move around
(there are really only five places to go, namely the options listed
above ( Choose Assignment, View Assignment
Results, etc.).
Choose
Assignment:
- Click on
the link for the assignment that you want to take. A new assignment
will be prepared for you (it might take a few seconds), and then you
will be presented with a second link for your particular version of
that assignment in pdf (Acrobat) form.
- Click on
this second link to download the assignment to your computer. If you
have a dialup connection, it might take about 30 seconds or so to
download this pdf document. Assuming that your Acrobat Reader software
is correctly configured, the assignment should open up inside your
browser. If the document does not open up in your browser, see the
System Requirements
section below.
- Follow
the instructions given in the assignment.
- You
must click on the Begin Assignment button to start.
- Then
proceed through the assignment, using either the Back
and Next buttons at the top of each page, or the
arrow buttons in Acrobat Reader.
- Answer
fill-in questions using the same syntax that you would use on your
calculator. If you're not sure of the syntax to use, click on the Help
with Math Syntax link located under the answer box (or click
here to see the same help information).
- You
must click on the End Assignment button when you are
done. This will grade your assignment immediately, record your score,
and return you to the the View Assignment Results
screen on the Optimath web site.
- Note to dialup users: Make sure that you are connected to the internet
before you press the End Assignment button! You
can check your connection by opening up second window or tab in your
browser and then refreshing your home page.
- You
will now be at the View Assignment Results screen,
where you can see your answers and the correct answers, along with
detailed solutions.
View
Assignment Results:
- Click on
the link corresponding to the previous assignment that you want to
view. You will again receive a pdf document that should open up within
your browser. You will see your answers, the correct answers, and
solutions to each problem. This is also a page length document that you
can print if you wish.
Change
password:
- Click on
this link to change your password to something that will be easy to
remember. If you ever forget your password, you will need to contact
your instructor.
Email
your instructor:
- This is
a convenience link if you want to email your instructor. For example,
you might want to ask about a particular question from one of the
assignments. The link will open up your default email program.
Log
out:
- Please
remember to log out from the system when you are done.
__________
System requirements
The testing
system requires an internet browser along with the Acrobat Reader
software. In particular, it requires that your Acrobat Reader
software be configured to open pdf files within your browser.
That is the usual behavior after you install Acrobat Reader, but it's
possible that you may have changed that behavior in the Acrobat Reader
preferences.
- Windows:
browser Firefox or Internet Explorer, with Acrobat Reader version 6, 7,
or 8. If you have Windows XP, it is recommended that you install
Acrobat Reader 7 or 8.
- Other
browsers may or may not work.
- If
your dialup or cable internet services uses "web accelerator"
technology, then it is recommended that you use Firefox instead of
Internet Explorer.
- Mac
OS X: Safari browser, with Acrobat Reader version 8.
- This
is the only configuration that currently works in OS X.
- Linux:
Firefox browser, with Acrobat Reader
- Other
browsers may or may not work.
If pdf
files do not open up within your browser, first try opening up Acrobat
Reader, look at the Preferences, check off the preference which says
"open within browser", and then check that preference back on again.
Then test your setup again. If it still doesn't work, then you may need
to reinstall Acrobat Reader. Make sure that you install the browser
plugin if the installation program asks you.
Finally,
you must also have Javascript enabled in Acrobat Reader (this is the
default setting).
__________
OPTIMATH
Question Types and Syntax
OPTIMATH has a number of different question types. While
some questions are multiple choice, most of them are "free response"
with an answer box for you to type in your answer. For the most part,
you can enter your answer in "calculator syntax", pretty much as you
would on a graphing calculator. For more details, you should read the
Math Syntax page. This
page is also accessible to you during the tests (look for the link
underneath each answer box). Most of what you need to know is mentioned
on that page.
There are a few additional items that should be
emphasized:
- Remember to look under the answer box for the
description of the expected format of the answer. If you are
not sure of the correct syntax, click on the math syntax
link which is also located under the answer box.
- Unless explicitly specified otherwise, all questions take
exact answers. If the answer is sqrt(2), then 1.41421
is not a correct answer, even if you type in 10
decimals.
- Be sure to include enough parentheses,
and put them in the correct places. OPTIMATH evaluates your answer
according to the usual rules of precedence in mathematics; operators of
equal precedence get evaluated left to right. The order of precedence
is (from highest to lowest):
- parentheses
- functions (like sin
or sqrt)
- powers (^)
- multiplication and division
- addition and subtraction
For example:
- sqrt(2)*x: The sqrtfunction
has a higher precedence than multiplication; OPTIMATH sees this as
(sqrt(2))*x, not as sqrt(2*x).
- 2^3*4: the power
has a higher precedence than multiplication; OPTIMATH sees this as
(2^3)*4
or 32, not as 2^12.
- 1/2/3/4: the
divisions have equal precedence, so they get evaluated left to right: 1
divided by 2, then divided by 3, then divided by 4, or 1/24. If you want (1/2)
divided by (3/4), put in parentheses, as (1/2)/(3/4)
- Spaces
in your answer are ignored. Thus, the answers 5*x+2, 5x+2,
and 5 x+ 2
would all be graded in the same way.
- Equivalent expressions are graded the
same, in general. For example:
- 6/4
and 3/2
- 1/sqrt(2)
and sqrt(2)/2
- 3(x+4)
and 3x+12
However, there are some exceptions. If the question
expressly indicates that your answer must be simplified, then you must
enter the answer in a simplified form. A typical example would be a
factoring problem, such as factoring the expression x^{2}-4.
In this case, you would have to enter either (x+2)(x-2) or (x-2)(x+2).
When you view your corrected assignment, remember that the the listed
correct answer is usually just one possible correct form of the answer.
In most cases, there are various forms of the answer that will be
graded as correct.
- Exact answers vs. approximations: All
answers must be exact, unless you are specifically requested to give an
approximation. If you are asked to give an approximation, then your
answer must be accurate to at least the requested number of decimal
places after the decimal point. For example, you might be asked to
provide an answer that is accurate to at least three decimal
places after the decimal point. In this case, any answer within
0.001 of the listed correct answer counts as correct. Thus, if the
listed correct answer is 1.41421356237, then responses such as 1.414or 1.4142
or 1.415 would
all be graded as correct.
- While we are on the subject of approximate numerical
answers: some word problems require you to find some intermediate
results first. Make sure you use enough decimals of accuracy
for those. If you round some intermediate value to two decimals, your
final answer will not be correct to three decimals. You should use at
least four or five decimals for the intermediate calculations, to be on
the safe side.
- When it comes to typing in equations of
curves, the basic rule is: your answer must be a single equation
which has the same graph as the given correct answer. So, if the
given answer is y=x+2, and you type in y-x=2, that is correct. However, if the answer is x=y^2, and you type in y=sqrt(x), that is wrong. The reason is that the graph of x=y^2 is a parabola, but
the graph of y=sqrt(x) is the upper half of a parabola. You also
cannot combine equations (for example, an answer such as y=sqrt(x) , y=-sqrt(x)would be incorrect).
- Answers with units: You are probably used to adding units
(such as "meters" or "seconds") to the answers of application problems.
However, grading algorithms in OPTIMATH are not designed to accept
answers with units. Therefore, do not add units to any of your answers. In particular, do not add "degrees" or "radians" to any of your answers.
- If you are ever unsure why OPTIMATH
graded your answer as incorrect, be sure to contact your instructor in
person or by email. Your instructor can look at your answer and the
listed correct answer, and then provide you with an explanation.
__________
Other
hints and information:
- How many questions? Each quiz has
10 to 15 questions, with a range of difficulty. Each quiz description
gives more detailed information about that particular quiz. When
computing final grades, your best quiz score will be rescaled to
20 points total, so all of the quizzes have equal weight.
- Which browser? You will need access to a computer with an internet
connection and one of the supported
operating system / web browser / Acrobat Reader combinations.
Alternatively, you can of course use computers
at CR if you don't have your own computer and you come to CR frequently.
- Grading: Be sure to always grade your quizzes. Your online assignment is not complete until you have
finished the grading process. If you leave an assignment ungraded, then
a score of 0 is recorded.
- Security: Be sure to log out of OPTIMATH
or quit your browser when you are done working within the testing
system. Otherwise, you will remain "logged in" to the testing system,
and the next person to use the computer can assume your identity.
- Protecting your answers from system errors:
As with all computer applications, occasionally problems may occur. For
example, your computer or browser may freeze up and you may be forced
to restart your system. In that case, you will need to start the
assignment over. It's important to realize that while you are working
on an OPTIMATH assignment, the assignment is actually located on your
computer - your results are not saved until you finish the assignment.
Thus, you should take precautions to preserve your answers, as follows:
- To
guard against losing answers in event of a system problem, be sure to
carefully write down your answers on your scratch paper. When you go
back into OPTIMATH, you will see a message stating that you have an
"active" assignment that you may restart. In this case, OPTIMATH will
retrieve the exact same version of the assignment that you were working
on, but all of the answers will be blank. You can then retype your
answers into the assignment.
- Remember
to stay within the assignment window while working on the assignment.
Don't use the Back or Forward buttons on your browser. Also, only use
single-clicks with the mouse on buttons and links, not double-clicks.
- If
you get an error which ultimately causes you to miss a problem on an
exam, please show it to your proctor and have the proctor send me a
confirming note about the problem. You will probably just have to take
the exam again, but at least I can give you a deadline extension in
this case. The point is that you need to do something right away when
this happens. You cannot come back a week later and tell me that you
had a problem on an earlier exam.
- Technical problems: If the testing
system doesn't seem to work correctly for you, be sure to consult the
Technical Notes
page.