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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
11 Replies
Mission Specialist
Mission Specialist

I'm an adjunct instructor at a technical college and I'm having students download Vagrant boxes running on top of Oracle Virtual Box.  I'm teaching the RH124 as an on-line courses.  There are 7 students in the course and I have them send me either screen shots of their terminal window showing a limited number of steps of the RH124 labs or record their interaction with the script utility. I then use the scriptreplay utility to see what they typed and how quickly they are doing it.  I do add notes on modifications to the RH124 labs to meet the constraints of the format that I've adopted.

I had a few labs prior to using the text where students practice making recording such as  echo "Hello World" and then use scriptreplay to verify their recording.  There is a slight bug in the script utility but there is a workaround. 

(See man script for more information)

The course is done over Blackboard and I have on-line trouble shooting sessions using Blackboard's collaborate function where I can follow the student as they are presenting their issue.

Students are credited for script recordings (which I can replay with scriptreplay) or screen shots.  The screen shots must contain a prompt showing the student's lastname (see man hostnamectl).  They receive 100% for turning in the assignments on time and are penalized 20% for late assignments.  There is a drop dead date and no credit. 

Flight Engineer
Flight Engineer

Lovely feedback. For the RH124: What I have now done is to recreate the NDG Labs Final Chapter Review in a MS Word document. I have removed the answers. I have also removed the questions that need to be “lab graded” since those often fail for one reason or the other. Quite often the graded labs fail saying “contact your system administrator” which means I have to reset the classroom server. So I use this Word document with no answers as a paper print out to the students as either a final exam at the end of my Redhat RH124 tutoring; or as a study guide. As they do each exercise; I tell them to also type the answers into a *.txt file on their Redhat workstation. They then copy that .txt file to a thumb drive and submit to me for grading. Upon completion of the training my department issues each student a printed Certificate of Completion for the class. It builds morale & gives them the sense of accomplishment. I then ask them to commit to self study some more; in preparation for sitting the EX200 exam.

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