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Starfighter Starfighter
Starfighter
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How do you handle academic assessments?

Since this is the Red Hat Academy section, I am assuming that most people who participate here are teachers at colleges and universities. I am wondering...

We know that the curriculum/course content from Red Hat (that which is available via the Gilmore Global and NDG partners) was designed for the enterprise training environment. As a result, the only real assessment that takes place is at the end of the training: does the student pass the certification exam or not?

Also keep in mind that the existing Red Hat lab assignments not only tell the students what to do, they also tell the student how to do it.

In my academic world, I need meaningful and measurable assessments along the way. I cannot simply wait until the end and give a final exam. (Additionally, I cannot require my students to take the official certification exam. Neither can I require them to report to me their success or failure if they do take it.)

Early on, I would assign all the end-of-chapter labs and the comprehensive review (at the end of RH124, RH134 and RH254) for grades. What I found was that most of the students weren’t learning the material. They were taking the easy way out; they were either copying and pasting the answers into the CLI or simply retyping them. All they were learning was how to follow directions. No critical thinking or problem solving was taking place.

(Yes, I do have other materials that I use to assess. However, I found, after passing my own RHCSA exam, that the three Red Hat comprehensive review labs are excellent for helping the students prepare for their own exams. Additionally, the end-of-chapter labs provide a good scaffolding path leading up to the comprehensive labs.)

My solution was to rewrite all of the end-of-chapter and comprehensive review labs to remove the “how-to” steps. I kept the same instructions and, where provided, the grading scripts. I took the opportunity to combine the NDG and DIY lab instructions into a single set (although they’re the same labs, they’re slightly different in the way they’re written). I also added a few steps here and there, mainly to get the students used to checking their own work as they went through the lab (e.g.: after they create a user or group, have them verify that the user or group was actually created by the system). Finally, in some cases, I added additional steps they had to do before submitting their results.

Whew…  After that wall of text, I have these questions:

If you teach in an academic environment, how do you handle assessments when it comes to lab work? Do you use Red Hat’s labs? Do you use your own?

Program Lead at Arizona's first Red Hat Academy, est. 2005
Estrella Mountain Community College
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Cadet
Cadet
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Re: How do you handle academic assessments?

Tracy_Baker,

That's a great idea. Any chance of sharing that?

-- Joel

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Starfighter Starfighter
Starfighter
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Re: How do you handle academic assessments?

@Joel

I am considering sharing them with the RHA people I'm in contact with at Red Hat (Trisha and Lauren).

I'd rather they were not shared out to the population at large -- there may be issues with doing that because I took NDG's instructions and modified those.

If I do share with them, they can make the decision, through their processes, to make them available to RHA people.

Program Lead at Arizona's first Red Hat Academy, est. 2005
Estrella Mountain Community College
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Flight Engineer
Flight Engineer
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Re: How do you handle academic assessments?

@Tracy_BakerDid you ever get a response on sharing the assements? It does seem quite a shame the RHEL8 chapter labs have replaced the RHEL6 & 7 style ones. I expect it's because of the self paced learning tracks.

Head in Cloud
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Starfighter Starfighter
Starfighter
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Re: How do you handle academic assessments?

@LLRobinson I've had a few people ask to see mine -- which I'm happy to do as long as the they're from a Red Hat Academy.

I've heard nothing official from Red Hat themselves about this issue.

I'm working on RHEL 8 RH124. I'm currently in the middle of chapter 8.

What I'm finding is that it isn't simply an matter of removing the answers from the end-of-chapter review labs. It is deeper than that. Eveything needs to be looked at for because of:

  1. Unclear and poorly written instruction. Frequently the original author forgets the target audience, which should be the complete Linux beginner. After all, the very first sentence in the course says, "Red Hat System Administration I (RH124) is designed for IT professionals without previous Linux system administration experience." When I have to read a paragraph three to four times to get what it is says, then it needs re-written.
  2. "Bugs." There are places in where things are flat-out incorrect. There are other times where there is no continuity -- an instruction or explanation metaphorically jumps from point A to point C, bypassing point B. There are still other times where the instruction is correct, but the prompt isn't.
  3. Assumption of knowledge: There are places where the instruction assumes knowledge that the students hasn't been exposed to - yet. (A pretty good example of this is chapter 5 section 5, which begins by talking about shell variables [a new topic for RH124]. The problem is that it never explains what a variable is - it immediately goes into what you can do with them. Another example, in the same chapter and section, is that the instruction completely omits the fact that variable names may not begin with a numeral.)
  4. Bad (or wonky) grammar and incorrect spelling. Update: immediately after writing this, I went to work in Chapter 8, section 5, and found this: "Commands for Sending Signals by Explicit Request. You signal their current foreground process by pressing a keyboard control sequence to suspend (Ctrl+z), kill (Ctrl+c), or core dump (Ctrl+\) the process. However, you will use signal-sending commands to send signals to a background process or to processes in a different session." This has incorrect grammar (it should be "the" instead of "their") and feels very awkward. I will suggest that, to the beginning Linux user, it is very confusing...

Numbers 2 through 4 don't happen often, but they do happen.

As I read over this, I sound like I'm being overly critical of Red Hat's instruction. This isn't the case. I think that 95%+ of it is good. I approach this as if I were a student who knows nothing. When I do, it is then that I find that things needing clarification and correction.

When I find things that are incorrect (or things I feel should be changed), I've been submitting them as messages in this sub-forum.

Incidentally, when it comes to the end-of-class review labs, I try not to change the verbiage too much. My reasoning is that the students need to be able to understand what's being asked of them as Red Hat has written it -- kind of like a word problem they see in math classes. They're likely to see much the same kind of language when they take a certification exam.

Program Lead at Arizona's first Red Hat Academy, est. 2005
Estrella Mountain Community College
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Cadet
Cadet
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Re: How do you handle academic assessments?

Hi all

We are just starting out as a Red Hat Academy. I had more or less the same thoughts concerning assessment. I solved it on short term by rewriting all the practice exercises. Essentially I left out the part on the How-To. Where I thought it was necessary to provide some more context, I expanded the question with some "tips" on how to solve. Eventually, when there is more time, I plan on coming up with my own.

Cheers

Antonio

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Flight Engineer Flight Engineer
Flight Engineer
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Re: How do you handle academic assessments?

That is a great question. My college just became a red hat academy last year, and I was tasked with converting our three linux courses to become alligned with rh124/134/254. I too did not like the idea of having "easy" labs because of the copy/paste issue you mentioned. Because I already had coursework existing from the previous classes (based on Fedora, no less) I was able to make the book labs required, but just for practice. I still had "original" material that I tweaked to follow the books. I also created a end of semester "skills final" that is based off the final chapter's comprehensive review. It was a lot of work, but to teach these courses in an entire semester when they were developed for 5 days, deemed necessary. Luckily we now have a great website to converse about such things!

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Cadet
Cadet
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Re: How do you handle academic assessments?

I am currently teaching Linux courses that are agnostic in nature and using TestOut and a CompTIA Linux Study guide at the moment. We have recently become a Red Hat Academy but still must go through the course approval process. I've had the same thoughts and questions about how to or even what to grade in a course like this where in most instances the work is given with answers already there. Currently, I am project based to some extent in my Part 2 class so with it, I have the students setting up various systems and services from the ground up. Over and over and over, throughout the semester, so eventually, they become pretty good with it. I am anxious to see what types of changes will need made in order to properly align with this curriculum. There is a chance we may keep both programs, with one being for the enterprise linux side of things and the other as it is now.

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Flight Engineer
Flight Engineer
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Re: How do you handle academic assessments?

I had the same questions as yourself and thise above, about how to get measured results from quizzes,,exams and projects. The Redhat, NDG materail is created & designed to give repetitive practice to the student. Based onnthe feedback on here, It seems modifying the available material to create some quizzes and final reviews are going to be the best way to gain measurable results. Thanks for sharing your info.
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Flight Engineer
Flight Engineer
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Re: How do you handle academic assessments?

I try to focus on showing students how to check their work by asking for a screenshot of the output of a command such as chage for accounf expiry info or egrep ^PermitRootLogin no /etc/ssh/sshd_config to show that the comment character was removed from the start of the line in addition to the permission being changed to no.. It's a skill they will need in the workplace or siting for the certification exam.

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