PDA

View Full Version : Spin-off from grades thread: Grading at college level



Renn/aissance
Feb. 23, 2013, 12:19 AM
I recently started back for another degree and encountered a policy in one a 100-level class that seems a little... interesting.

All homework assignments are graded on completion, not correctness. If you answered every question, you get full marks, even if you answered incorrectly. If you approach teaching staff (prof or TA) with a question, prof or TA will not give any answer that will confirm whether or not you are on the right track, but will say "discuss this with your group" or "reread chapter X." If you say "I have read chapter X, and I am uncertain about Y, can you please clarify whether my understanding that ___ is correct," you are told to reread chapter X. To be fair, this is not my personal experience, this is announced policy.

The logic is that students who become accustomed to being told the correct answer do not develop the skills to acquire answers on their own, and that by grading homework on correctness, professors accustom students to being told the correct answer.

I have thoughts on this from doing the whole college thing before and from grading as a TA; but I'll save them for the moment as I'm interested in others' thoughts on this. (Psst, mvp and Peggy, as I know you both teach at the collegiate level- I'd be really interested in your feelings on this style of grading.)

mvp
Feb. 23, 2013, 12:31 AM
The grading for "did merely you do the assignment?" is often a strategy for coping with a butt-load of students and an effort to make them not blow all learning off until the final.

The not answering your question about specific concepts? That's someone not doing their job. Period.

I take it you are walking into office hours with these questions?

Hippolyta
Feb. 23, 2013, 02:34 AM
This is exactly what I have to explain to my students as NOT COLLEGE grading. This is what they expect, apparently from HS, but it is not the way it floats.

You are paying for a degree/credit. the degree/credit is a credible signal to others that you have taken this course & learned a minimum of % of the material. When this is not the case, the value of that degree/credit becomes a big fat ZERO. So, essentially, grade inflation means you are ripping off everyone who has worked for & paid for their degree. Now it means shite.

Can't get a job after college? Maybe it is b/c a degree these days barely indicates that you can read and write. Math?? ha, forget it.

You want every point from an assignment? Please see the college handbook (and my syllabus) that states an A is for outstanding work. The bare-ass minimum gets you a D.

Maybe I am waging a one woman, futile campaign, but I will be damned if I give in. Same story with cheaters. I will go to the mat to fail one, and have had a drag out fight with former administrators that ended up in arbitration.

FitToBeTied
Feb. 23, 2013, 06:53 AM
In my classes we make use of some of the online technology for homework, so that is autograded as right/wrong. If a student believes they have been incorrectly graded they can bring me their work and I'll review. Then they have tests, a mid-term and a final.

Typically my classes are about 15-20 students. In a 20 student class there may be 4 A's. A's are about being outstanding which means your work is mistake free. I'll admit that I am more lenient in the classes that are for the general population than I am in classes that are for the major. I believe if this subject is going to be your major than you should represent it as an expert, not someone who learned to get by.

clanter
Feb. 23, 2013, 09:18 AM
The logic is that students who become accustomed to being told the correct answer do not develop the skills to acquire answers on their own, and that by grading homework on correctness, professors accustom students to being told the correct answer.
.)

Well, using logic it appears neither the professor or the TA know the answer; is it too late to drop/add?

Are you attending a for profit paper mill opperation?

sophie
Feb. 23, 2013, 09:56 AM
I teach language at college level.
I do grade "homework" on completion AND quality.
I also have students correct their papers themselves. I point out errors (with a specific code they all have access to) and they have to rewrite the paper for the final grade. So hopefully it gives them a chance to understand their mistakes.
I always give them the answers eventually!
I've only had one student, in all the years I've been teaching, complain about her grade: I gave her a B and it was apparently not good enough for her to get into the grad school she wanted. She was expecting an A, but her level of work just was not good enough. She was very persistent, even threatening, but I stood my ground. Sheesh.

pluvinel
Feb. 23, 2013, 10:08 AM
I teach at the graduate level at a state university. I was "grieved" (the university's "due process" that requires a professor go to a grade grievance hearing) for giving a student a "C".

The student plagiarized (there was no question there was plagiarism.) Plagiarism is clearly stated in student manual as being a breach of academic honesty. I wanted to give the student an F for the course (my zero tolerance for plagiarism). University said to give student an F/0 for the assignment then average that in for course grade.

I blame the educational system. In the corporate world, verified ethics violations are cause for termination. Why not in the academic world?

sophie
Feb. 23, 2013, 10:23 AM
I blame the educational system. In the corporate world, verified ethics violations are cause for termination. Why not in the academic world?

Ha! Don't get me started on that. Nepotism, Cronyism, harassment...all alive and well in Academia. We are trying to get a Tenured prof fired because (among other reprehensible things) he falsified one of our Lecturers' student evaluations. I highly doubt he will get fired, tho.

Christa P
Feb. 23, 2013, 10:37 AM
[QUOTE=FitToBeTied;6853881]In my classes we make use of some of the online technology for homework, so that is autograded as right/wrong. If a student believes they have been incorrectly graded they can bring me their work and I'll review. Then they have tests, a mid-term and a final.
[QUOTE]


This is my system as well for Math classes. In addition the online HW program has a link to the textbook or examples of how to do the problems. By doing the HW online the students get immediate feedback as well, they don't have to turn in the assignment and then wait for the next class to find out if they made mistakes.

I also tell the students that if they don't understand a question on the HW they can bring it to class and I will go over it.

Just as a note, I am teaching pre-collegiate and 100 level courses at a community college so the students are frequently struggling with math anyway.

Christa

Renn/aissance
Feb. 23, 2013, 11:37 AM
Thanks for the input. This is a university with a very strong academic reputation.

In a science class, there is such a thing as a right answer sometimes. Yes, there's a lot of matters of opinion, and the data is conflicting over X, Y, and Z, but we can treat "the earth goes around the sun" as a right answer. ;) The "right answers" are the foundations on which further developments are built. So I feel very strongly that when a student approaches teaching staff, makes it clear that he or she has made an effort to figure it out, but is still confused and wants to know if he or she is on the right track... you help the student. Otherwise that student might one day get on TV in full belief of possession of "facts" such as that the female body can "shut that whole thing down." ;) In other words, sometimes looking for "the answer" isn't just student laziness, it's needing to know something so that the whole rest of the everything is going to make sense.

If the only response to a clarification question is going to be "read the book," there's no purpose in paying for the class. I might as well just not take it and go read the book. I think that a good professor with experience in the field has more to give us than that.

As a TA, I did the majority of the grading. I didn't have a ton of input from the prof I TA'd for about how she wanted me to handle it, as theoretically I was doing "first pass" grading and she was giving the final reports, but she extremely rarely made any changes to a score I'd tentatively assigned. (I'd been a student of hers for three years before that, so I knew her grading system well, which I think probably accounts for that- not professorial laziness which was definitely not the case here.) Answers on graded work had to be correct, or at least getting there, in order to earn points. If something wasn't quite right, it would be corrected on the paper- "Not quite; this is actually handled by this part of the brain" or "You've got this backwards, take another look at the diagram on page 7." If a student evidently totally did not understand a concept, I'd comment "Looks like some gaps in your understanding of X- take another look over chapter 7 or let's talk after class." Usually that would be followed up by student emailing to say "I reread, and I understand now why ___, but I'm still confused about ____," and then that would be discussed in office hours.

I like that system as a student, and I thought it was effective as a grader. It called attention to a problem but still put the onus on the student to take steps in remedying whatever deficit was there before getting "the answer."

mvp
Feb. 23, 2013, 01:44 PM
Well, using logic it appears neither the professor or the TA know the answer; is it too late to drop/add?

Are you attending a for profit paper mill opperation?

On a strictly logical level, the explanation says absolutely nothing about what the prof/TA knows.

ETA: Often a relatively simple question about a central concept in a course or a field has a very long, very complicated answer. The careerist in that field could spend bury the student in controversies he/she didn't know were there. The student who wants to know is welcome to that explanation and it stops when he/she says "uncle!," but chances are that the prof knows he/she could drown the student in that and tries not to.

fordtraktor
Feb. 23, 2013, 02:06 PM
We have a mandatory curve. The students hate it conceptually, and sometimes I don't enjoy making decisions based on it -- but the one time I do like it is when students complain about their grades. "there's a curve and your classmates performed better than you" is an easy answer.

I do spend a lot of time with students going over their exams to make sure they understand how to improve -- but once I start pointing out all the ways they *could* improve, they tend to view their grades as more generous than they originally thought. :)

mvp
Feb. 23, 2013, 02:41 PM
I've only had one student, in all the years I've been teaching, complain about her grade: I gave her a B and it was apparently not good enough for her to get into the grad school she wanted. She was expecting an A, but her level of work just was not good enough. She was very persistent, even threatening, but I stood my ground. Sheesh.

I hear you. But you aren't doing badly if you have just one student giving you the ol' filibuster-for-a-higher grade.

Oddly enough, I have found that the B or B+ grade-holders to be the most brazen and persistent in gunning for a higher grade. Ironically, I was raised to be a pretty generous grader around the B level, but the gap from B+ to A- is a tad larger. We can talk about why that is if you want.

IME with grade filibusters, they are painful. I have done one or two, very early in my teaching career. The problem is that I started grading with generosity. There's no way a student can know that, of course. But if they try to argue for better... while inadvertently showing me what they did miss, the only option is to explain that they did worse than the initial grade. I have no desire to shame a student.

Or worse (and unacceptable), the student starts to piss me off, and then for completely inappropriate reasons, I'm not inclined to raise a grade out of kindness.

I learned that the grade filibuster is a lose-lose.

After that semester, I told students that I would not change grades once attached. We could talk about how I arrived at the grade I did, but it wouldn't change. If they thought they could do better, they were welcome to have the prof (or chair) do the regrade.... but they should know that that rarely works.

But! I'm willing to do anything to help them get the grade they want before they submit the assignment.

Then I ask everyone if they have any objections, and give them room to state those in class (a chance for a mutiny) or to do that privately (if they are paranoid and shy). It hasn't failed yet!

Renn/aissance
Feb. 23, 2013, 02:43 PM
Oddly enough, I have found that the B or B+ grade-holders to be the most brazen and persistent in gunning for a higher grade. Ironically, I was raised to be a pretty generous grader around the B level, but the gap from B+ to A- is a tad larger. We can talk about why that is if you want.

I'd be interested in hearing you elaborate on this.

To me it seems very logical that C is "hovering around competent," B is "pretty darn competent," and A is "exceptional," and it's a lot easier to demonstrate "pretty darn competent" than "exceptional."

mvp
Feb. 23, 2013, 02:50 PM
I'd be interested in hearing you elaborate on this.

To me it seems very logical that C is "hovering around competent," B is "pretty darn competent," and A is "exceptional," and it's a lot easier to demonstrate "pretty darn competent" than "exceptional."

I have worked at universities that are making the average grade somewhere between a B and a B+. Shocking and perhaps lame, but not correctable by one prof.

And the students at these places had to have some competence and desire even to get there, so I'm not going to lose my mind about grade inflation to this level.

But! 1) I think a B+ is a perfectly respectable grade. 2) There needs to be something that preserves room for better-than-average performance. Better than average performance means that the student got the factual stuff right but also went beyond that. He/she did something original or saw the larger issues behind the question that someone in the field would appreciate (and which I taught). That break-a-sweat engagement built on getting the basic facts/understanding/mechanics right signifies the line between a B+ and an A-. You must impress me to get an A. I have given very few A+s in my grading career. You must make me weep in order to get one of those.

starrunner
Feb. 23, 2013, 03:58 PM
I don't teach at the collegiate level, however, I loved the online coursework for my physics classes that it wasn't just input an answer and get it right or wrong. It would tell you if you were wrong and you could try again, etc for the correct answer. There was also a way to leave notes or comments for your fellow students also inputting answers (as in ways to figure out the problem, where you went wrong, etc).

I learned so much more that way than the courses where it was just turn in the homework.

I had an A&P class that was graded like the OP's situation though, except the answers were posted for each section in the classroom so you could just copy the answers. If the homework was there, it was just counted as in & complete. We had one midterm & a final exam. It was a very ugly course for those students not inclined to actually learn & study the material.

mvp
Feb. 23, 2013, 04:05 PM
I blame the educational system. In the corporate world, verified ethics violations are cause for termination. Why not in the academic world?

You are holding up the corporate world as a comparative bastion of morality and justice? That surprises me, a headline reader and someone who subsidized the Wall Street F-Ups that contributed to the Great Recession.


Ha! Don't get me started on that. Nepotism, Cronyism, harassment...all alive and well in Academia. We are trying to get a Tenured prof fired because (among other reprehensible things) he falsified one of our Lecturers' student evaluations. I highly doubt he will get fired, tho.

So let's call it a draw. You can find petty, immoral, greedy and short-sighted ba#tards anywhere. What I think these two worlds have in common, however, is a lot of protection and slack for the high-ups.

furlong47
Feb. 23, 2013, 04:05 PM
I agree that students should first try to work out an understanding on their own, but sometimes you can re-read the material 100 times and just not get it without additional explanation. This policy doesn't seem to account for different types of learning styles at all. Some can just read it, others need to be shown. Also, it isn't always just about WHAT the correct answer is, but HOW to achieve it and WHY it is correct. I do not think I would be happy with a professor offering up that policy. I would probably do fine in the class anyway, but other types of learners may not.

pluvinel
Feb. 23, 2013, 04:27 PM
You are holding up the corporate world as a comparative bastion of morality and justice? That surprises me, a headline reader and someone who subsidized the Wall Street F-Ups that contributed to the Great Recession.

The company I work for has an employee manual on "Ethical Behavior". Breach it at your own peril.

There were about 100 terminations for ethical violations last year.....so don't slam the corporate world without knowing what you're talking about. This is the standard I bring to my students.....

mvp
Feb. 23, 2013, 04:34 PM
The company I work for has an employee manual on "Ethical Behavior". Breach it at your own peril.

There were about 100 terminations for ethical violations last year.....so don't slam the corporate world without knowing what you're talking about. This is the standard I bring to my students.....

I defer to your knowledge of your corner of the corporate world. It's not all of it.

MoonoverMississippi
Feb. 23, 2013, 04:35 PM
I had an accounting professor with a new-to-me approach to homework, and I'd love to hear opinions from the other professors and teachers here.

He assigned homework to be done before the class that concept was taught and discussed. We had to read the text, attempt the assignment, and then were taught how to handle it correctly in class the day the assignment was due (to be submitted by the beginning of class). He counted the assignment if you made an honest effort at attempting the problem and turned it in on time; no score if you did not turn it in or very obviously did not make any effort.
It seemed like a stressful (!!!) way to learn, but the students that tried had a good beginning understanding of the class lesson when we arrived, and going over the homework problems led to quite a few "aha!" moments and a very firm grasp of the lesson and an understanding of where and why we went wrong.

It was a painful semester (I don't like making mistakes, and this was a way to guarantee quite a few of them!) but I did learn an amazing amount this way, and retained almost all of it.

This professor was also very available to the students so extra explanations/help was easy to obtain for those that needed it, unlike the OP's professor and TA. This was a 300 level class.

Is this "try before you are taught" process becoming popular (or did I just somehow miss it the first time around)?

mvp
Feb. 23, 2013, 04:36 PM
I agree that students should first try to work out an understanding on their own, but sometimes you can re-read the material 100 times and just not get it without additional explanation. This policy doesn't seem to account for different types of learning styles at all. Some can just read it, others need to be shown. Also, it isn't always just about WHAT the correct answer is, but HOW to achieve it and WHY it is correct. I do not think I would be happy with a professor offering up that policy. I would probably do fine in the class anyway, but other types of learners may not.


Making "just getting to the right answer" and not making room for people of all learning styles is also a bad idea for a prof who cares about research and advancing his/her field. Some of the most brilliant innovators are folks who "get" the agreed-upon basics of their field and also look at those in an entirely original way. IMO, it's possible to teach those "unorthodox" folks and it is harder work, but it's a great investment.

Renn/aissance
Feb. 23, 2013, 07:22 PM
MoonoverMississippi, that would make me absolutely bonkers in that kind of class- I do best when I first see the problem done. But not everybody learns like I do, and I I can understand why that strategy might work provided that students were given the resources to give it an actual college try. The same prof I asked about in the OP attempted a similar strategy on a recent assignment, but did not provide any kind of resources whatsoever. It involved a mathematical calculation I'd never seen before and after an hour of Googling to try to figure out how to even set up the damn equation I said F it and gave up.

kateh
Feb. 23, 2013, 07:53 PM
We have a mandatory curve. The students hate it conceptually, and sometimes I don't enjoy making decisions based on it -- but the one time I do like it is when students complain about their grades. "there's a curve and your classmates performed better than you" is an easy answer.


I kind of wish we did this. When subjective grading (essays etc) it's impossible to avoid comparing the excellent mastery answers to the generally understands it answers anyway. I'll use it when students argue that a quiz question was too hard: "Well, there were X 100's in this class, so apparently your classmates wouldn't think so."



It was a painful semester (I don't like making mistakes, and this was a way to guarantee quite a few of them!) but I did learn an amazing amount this way, and retained almost all of it.


I think that tells us all we need to know! I'm a grad student, and there's a LOT that I'm having to teach myself. This is consistent with past jobs I've had, where your boss gives you a project and some resources to figure it out, then it's up to you.

paulaedwina
Feb. 23, 2013, 08:18 PM
I recently started back for another degree and encountered a policy in one a 100-level class that seems a little... interesting.

All homework assignments are graded on completion, not correctness. If you answered every question, you get full marks, even if you answered incorrectly. If you approach teaching staff (prof or TA) with a question, prof or TA will not give any answer that will confirm whether or not you are on the right track, but will say "discuss this with your group" or "reread chapter X." If you say "I have read chapter X, and I am uncertain about Y, can you please clarify whether my understanding that ___ is correct," you are told to reread chapter X. To be fair, this is not my personal experience, this is announced policy.

The logic is that students who become accustomed to being told the correct answer do not develop the skills to acquire answers on their own, and that by grading homework on correctness, professors accustom students to being told the correct answer.

I have thoughts on this from doing the whole college thing before and from grading as a TA; but I'll save them for the moment as I'm interested in others' thoughts on this. (Psst, mvp and Peggy, as I know you both teach at the collegiate level- I'd be really interested in your feelings on this style of grading.)


I teach undergrads in small schools, but did my undergraduate work in a very large school. Here are my thoughts:

1. I teach one particular subject, among others, that is quite tough-Microbiology. Most deliverables are scored on merit; quizzes, exams, presentations, etc. There are a few that are scored on completion -not because I have no time, but because for those deliverables the benefit for them is the process. And while I score in that case mostly for completion I do look at their work and I am yet to find someone has just written blahblahblah.

2. The TA sounds like he was trying the Socratic approach that many schools encourage. You don't just give the answer, you ask leading questions and encourage the student to go looking for the answer. This way you hope to cultivate a natural curiosity and a sense of entitlement that stimulates independent research to answer questions. No, it's not because I don't know the answer.

ETA: I don't curve. If you get an A in my class it's because you have 90% or more. The way I figure it, if you're in the ER at the mercies of a nurse doing dilution math you hope that her grades were based on merit and not on everybody getting slaughtered academically and her landing on the top of the pile.

Paula

laskiblue
Feb. 23, 2013, 11:58 PM
I'm presently teaching an undergrad statistics course. I grade homework on both completeness and correctness, but if a student made a good faith try at accomplishing the task even if it came out incorrect, I award partial credit, note what part of the text will help out, and often review troublesome tasks in class with everyone. I view the teaching as described in the OP as rather sloppy, but that's just me.

paulaedwina
Feb. 24, 2013, 12:05 AM
Learning considered within a cultural context: Confucian and Socratic approaches.
Tweed, Roger G.; Lehman, Darrin R.
American Psychologist, Vol 57(2), Feb 2002, 89-99. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.57.2.89

A Confiician-Socratic framework is used to analyze culture's influence on academic learning. Socrates, a Western exemplar, valued private and public questioning of widely accepted knowledge and expected students to evaluate others' beliefs and to generate and express their own hypotheses. Confucius, an Eastern exemplar, valued effortful, respectful, and pragmatic acquisition of essential knowledge as well as behavioral reform. Expressions of these approaches in modern postsecondary contexts are discussed, as are the effects these approaches may have for students who either fit or do not fit the cultural ideal. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

mvp
Feb. 24, 2013, 12:14 AM
He assigned homework to be done before the class that concept was taught and discussed. We had to read the text, attempt the assignment, and then were taught how to handle it correctly in class the day the assignment was due (to be submitted by the beginning of class). He counted the assignment if you made an honest effort at attempting the problem and turned it in on time; no score if you did not turn it in or very obviously did not make any effort.
It seemed like a stressful (!!!) way to learn, but the students that tried had a good beginning understanding of the class lesson when we arrived, and going over the homework problems led to quite a few "aha!" moments and a very firm grasp of the lesson and an understanding of where and why we went wrong.

It was a painful semester (I don't like making mistakes, and this was a way to guarantee quite a few of them!) but I did learn an amazing amount this way, and retained almost all of it.

This professor was also very available to the students so extra explanations/help was easy to obtain for those that needed it, unlike the OP's professor and TA. This was a 300 level class.

Is this "try before you are taught" process becoming popular (or did I just somehow miss it the first time around)?

That would bum me out, too. But as you say, there is a legitimate pedagogical purpose: The lecture is better when you aren't meeting the material for the very first time.

It may be that prof found that doing it the other way-- explained first and practice in problem sets second-- got students to not get what they should from the lecture... and then suffer through problem sets they couldn't do anyway.

To me, the "homework before the class meeting" is akin to reading the assigned stuff before the lecture, seminar or section meeting. You just.can't.get.dick.out.of.it (or your money's worth) if you didn't read first.

paulaedwina
Feb. 24, 2013, 12:23 AM
I do have some topics -like microbial metabolism -that I have them read before lecture. I am careful to explain that I don't require they understand what they've read, but they should read it ahead. The "Aha" moments come easier for them, they have a sense of orientation when we're up to our elbows in something complex so they panic less.

Paula

mvp
Feb. 24, 2013, 12:26 AM
I kind of wish we did this. When subjective grading (essays etc) it's impossible to avoid comparing the excellent mastery answers to the generally understands it answers anyway. I'll use it when students argue that a quiz question was too hard: "Well, there were X 100's in this class, so apparently you're classmates wouldn't think so."

IMO, curves really benefit students. Look, if I teach something and 300 people get it wrong, the most parsimonious answer is that I screwed up, not all those folks. You also need to grade essays on a curve for the same reason.

All that having been said, I haven't been told to make sure that I deliver a certain percentage of Cs and Ds. To me, a C means the student phoned it in and made clearly no effort to try. A person getting a C from me probably knows it's coming.

paulaedwina
Feb. 24, 2013, 12:48 AM
I don't believe in curves, I think it's the path to perdition. Curves mean a C isn't a 70 it's an average for the class. So if everybody is doing badly it is not reflected. I agree that if everyone is doing poorly I need to figure out a way to optimize my delivery. I can see that with straight scores. As far as I am concerned a 90 is an A.

Paula

Beentheredonethat
Feb. 24, 2013, 01:06 AM
The try it yourself method, socratic method, struggle through it idea of teaching is coming back around as the new thing now. Like everything else, I use it sometimes.

I analogize learning to getting physically strong. If it's easy, you're not learning much. You need to struggle and stretch and feel a little sore to really make progress. Depending on what you are doing, figuring it out first for yourself puts you on a really high learning curve. It makes you struggle and go down wrong paths, but that is all part of learning. "I did not fail 10,000 times, I just found 10,000 ways that didn't work." --Ben Franklin

I think this is one of the hardest concepts to get across when I teach. When students figure it out and learn that that scariness, unsteadiness, unsureness is the sign of good learning, THAT is when you have a student. From a journal earlier in the year, one of my kids wrote about being a little dizzy and unsure about what we were doing, but she knew that was a good thing because she was learning. Pretty cool for a 13 year old.

A new thing to call it is grit. You HAVE to learn to fail and struggle to really succeed. http://www.nbcnews.com/video/rock-center/49168915#49168915

It's like my pilates or any exercise class. I know I'm not doing myself much good if it's easy and I feel comfortable. If I'm groaning and getting sore and turning purple, I know I'm getting a lot fitter and lot faster.

Peggy
Feb. 24, 2013, 02:55 AM
The only homework I assign is online homework and I do it mainly you have to draw a certain type of chemical structures to answer the questions and more or less forces the students to learn to draw them. It also provides input when they are wrong. They do have to get stuff right to get credit, but I do partial credit. So, this semester I'm doing it as extra credit, one point per homework assignment that they get 90% or more correct. So they can get up to ten points of extra credit in a course with roughly 500 points total. Last semester I did more, shorter, one-point assignments and then went over them the next day.

On lab reports the base for coming to lab, doing the experiment, and turning in something runs 30-40% for most labs. That's probably the closest to giving away points free than I get.

It's relatively easy not to help the students at all with assignments: shut office door and hide. It's a bit harder to give the answers away. It's significantly harder and more time consuming to help them towards a solution without giving the answer away; however, this probably teaches them the most.

I don't curve. I do adjust cut-offs if it seems appropriate: a bunch of students are clumped together at a cut-off, I feel that the class is better than their average, etc. For the most part students who are upset about getting the lower grade when they are close seem OK with it if you listen respectfully to them, acknowledge that this part of life isn't fair, and offer to write them a nice letter if they are denied admission to the transfer university of their choice. We do have departmental grading standards, but it isn't rigid.

My old tests and keys are posted online and I post them for the current class as we go along. I figure that certain groups on colleges tend to have copies of old tests and it's only fair if everyone does.

Any more questions?

paulaedwina
Feb. 24, 2013, 09:05 AM
RE: I think this is one of the hardest concepts to get across when I teach. When students figure it out and learn that that scariness, unsteadiness, unsureness is the sign of good learning, THAT is when you have a student.

Absolutely! There was an interesting article on NPR some time ago elucidating cultural differences in learning. One group emphasized that smarts was rewarded by accolades, and the other group emphasized that accolades came from hard work and practice. This says to me that people come to you with different expectations for instruction. You take the Socratic approach with the smarts=rewards group and you'll get alot more push back than with the hard work=rewards group.

I've seen this in a few places -when teaching adults topics that might expose learning gaps, and when I had the opportunity to take dressage lessons from a BNT on a PSG schoolmaster. She explained that my frustration at getting this horse to respond to me with my blurred aids and questionable body balance is typical for the people who come to her, and for her herself when she made the the switch to dressage. And one of two things happen at that stage typically: either the rider (who had considered himself advanced enough for this training) walks way frustrated and convinced that the fault lay in the stars and and not in himself, or the rider buckles down, struggles, strains, cries, and prevails in the end.

My micro students exemplify this. These are nursing school candidates. The class goes fast, the information is complex, and learning gaps like questionable math skills show up. One of two things happens then -I have attrition (a few students drop the class, usually frustrated at the time too), most students persevere. In all the years I've taught this class I've only failed one person -and she stopped turning in work. I've had students cry in frustration, but push through anyway and prevail. I get a few A grades, mostly B grades, a few C grades, and that one F.

RE: It's significantly harder and more time consuming to help them towards a solution without giving the answer away; however, this probably teaches them the most.

Hear hear. My most recent example is where I gave my first exam and a couple of students blew the multiple choice (these are not straightforward mc, each question requires a great deal of work and thinking). I could have left it there, but instead I showed them how to trouble shoot their answers to figure out their weaknesses (concept, too fast, misunderstood question, etc) so that they can address that before the next batch. This is one-on-one, going through the questions one at a time.

RE: My old tests and keys are posted online and I post them for the current class as we go along. I figure that certain groups on colleges tend to have copies of old tests and it's only fair if everyone does.

Yes. I do something similar too because, as I tell them, there are no new questions, just different ways of asking the same stuff. So I encourage them to drill and develop fluency, mental muscle memory, as it were.


Paula