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Do you offer extra credit to make up for low test scores?

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#1 smilesonly

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 09:37 AM

dd has gotten C's on her last two science tests.(apologia physical science)

she clearly understands the material, just goofed up or was not as thorough in her answers.

she is a perfectionist and asked if she could re-do the test. dh said no. i asked him if we could offer her extra credit and he said to come ask the hive.:)

tia-

#2 regentrude

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 09:51 AM

You can do many different things.
You can design the course so that the course grade is not only derived from tests, but also from grades for projects etc. This way, an individual test does not factor so heavily, which might be a good strategy for a child who is not a good tester. There are many ways to demonstrate knowledge.
You can also declare all chapter tests to be practice and derive the course grade from one comprehensive final exam at the end of the semester. This way, everything is still open.
Or you can decide that your goal is mastery and that she has to rework the material until she gets a perfect, or satisfactory test score (you need to decide what you consider acceptable), and only then move on to the next chapter.

There are pros and cons for all these different approaches. You need to decide what works best for your educational goals and philosophies.

What I would not do, however, is give "extra credit" by having a student compensate for a bad exam grade by doing something that you had not originally planned to include in the grade. It does not prepare them for the realities of college (you would not believe how many requests I get at the end of each semester from students who just want to do some extra credit work to pass a course that they have clearly failed).

#3 kiana

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 10:07 AM

What I would not do, however, is give "extra credit" by having a student compensate for a bad exam grade by doing something that you had not originally planned to include in the grade. It does not prepare them for the realities of college (you would not believe how many requests I get at the end of each semester from students who just want to do some extra credit work to pass a course that they have clearly failed).


Yep. :iagree:

#4 Julie in MN

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 10:35 AM

What I would not do, however, is give "extra credit" by having a student compensate for a bad exam grade by doing something that you had not originally planned to include in the grade. It does not prepare them for the realities of college (you would not believe how many requests I get at the end of each semester from students who just want to do some extra credit work to pass a course that they have clearly failed).


You are likely getting those requests because students have been doing that with other teachers. My son's teachers did that for him all the time in various ways (not sure if on tests specifically, but general course credit). I didn't necessarily approve, but I knew that a pleasant kid like him was a welcome addition to a harried teacher's classroom, so... Since he did well in college, I figure it didn't ruin him. His teachers did often remind him that college would be a whole different scenario.

So it's good to be aware that your student's grades may be compared with the grades of students who *were* given the opportunity for extra credit.

I know one of the Geometry resources we used (I think the Callahan videos) said that they returned tests to kids with marks but no hints, so that the student could re-do the problem for half credit. I have no idea how this could be managed in a classroom setting, but he said they did it routinely in their teaching.

So, I don't necessarily think it's ideal, but it is done, and it isn't always ruining the kids.

Julie

#5 KarenC

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 10:39 AM

But, I do give extra homework. I'm not really sure if there is much different between the two. If there is material that dd is having a hard time with, I continue to give homework questions on it and I continue to add review questions over it in future homework assignments until she routinely answers them correctly.

Does that make sense?

Karen

#6 Ester Maria

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 12:12 PM

You can do many different things.
You can design the course so that the course grade is not only derived from tests, but also from grades for projects etc. This way, an individual test does not factor so heavily, which might be a good strategy for a child who is not a good tester. There are many ways to demonstrate knowledge.
You can also declare all chapter tests to be practice and derive the course grade from one comprehensive final exam at the end of the semester. This way, everything is still open.
Or you can decide that your goal is mastery and that she has to rework the material until she gets a perfect, or satisfactory test score (you need to decide what you consider acceptable), and only then move on to the next chapter.

There are pros and cons for all these different approaches. You need to decide what works best for your educational goals and philosophies.

What I would not do, however, is give "extra credit" by having a student compensate for a bad exam grade by doing something that you had not originally planned to include in the grade. It does not prepare them for the realities of college (you would not believe how many requests I get at the end of each semester from students who just want to do some extra credit work to pass a course that they have clearly failed).

:iagree:

So it's good to be aware that your student's grades may be compared with the grades of students who *were* given the opportunity for extra credit. [...] So, I don't necessarily think it's ideal, but it is done, and it isn't always ruining the kids.

What Julie says is true and worthy of consideration, but I would like to propose an alternative way of dealing with it, too.

Where I come from, the whole concept of "academic credit" was - is - somewhat different, so these things are less common; what is VERY common, though, is the possibility that the students have to REJECT the final grade (no matter what the grading methodology) if they believe it does not reflect their knowledge. In such a case, a comprehensive exam (typically containing both the written and the oral part) is assigned. The previous proposed grade does not get "saved" for the student (i.e. to request that other / comprehensive exam carries a certain risk, as one may also end up worse than what it would have been - but alas, such is life), but it really provides an opportunity to have things take different turn *without* "padding up" the credit by "inventing" additional assignments. You may wish to consider this approach.

#7 cam1706

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 12:21 PM

dd has gotten C's on her last two science tests.(apologia physical science)

she clearly understands the material, just goofed up or was not as thorough in her answers.

she is a perfectionist and asked if she could re-do the test. dh said no. i asked him if we could offer her extra credit and he said to come ask the hive.:)

tia-


We are doing the Biology course this year. My daughters fill out the chapter summary as they read the chapter and then have two days to work on the study guide. Also, I usually assign one of the labs from each Module to be completed. I give 10 points for the completion of that work. The tests are worth 25 points. So, for instance if they had several answers wrong on the test, they might receive a grade for that module of 33/35, rather than the 23/25 if I had only counted the test.

Blessings,

#8 Shelly in VA

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 12:29 PM

You can do many different things.
You can design the course so that the course grade is not only derived from tests, but also from grades for projects etc. This way, an individual test does not factor so heavily, which might be a good strategy for a child who is not a good tester. There are many ways to demonstrate knowledge.


This is what we do. In science, for freshman/sophomore years the grade is 20% for classwork (reading, discussion, review questions), 30% for labwork, 10% for chapter review questions (open book), and 40% for tests. Junior/senior year I shift to 20% for classwork + chapter reviews, 40% for labwork, 40% for tests. I do allow the kids to rework review questions/definitions/chapter reviews for 1/2 credit, so they feel like I've given them the chance to fix their mistakes, but I do not do the same on tests. There is no rework on labwork, either, although I am with them discussing labs as they work them so that they don't get too far off course, but they get just one chance to write up and turn in the labs.

I agree with another poster who said that if the extra credit is something you weren't originally including in the coursework, then it shouldn't be added. It may be that other kids in other settings get the chance to have that, but that's the way life goes. Sometimes you get the easy teacher, sometimes the hard one, and sometimes, life is just unfair. ;)

#9 memphispeg

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 12:38 PM

I would do the following. Sit down with the test and go over it line by line. See where the mistakes were made. If there is a certain kind of mistake (computational, simplification, conceptual) you will have a better idea of what kinds of material to chose when making up problem sets, etc. for the next chapter. Have her review the chapter and correct the test so that it is all right. You could average the grades of the two and use that as her "test" grade. Next test, look it over before administering it and check to make sure the problems and work that she has done in assignments were similar to what is on the test. This will give her confidence and a way to learn to focus her study habits.

#10 regentrude

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 12:58 PM

what is VERY common, though, is the possibility that the students have to REJECT the final grade (no matter what the grading methodology) if they believe it does not reflect their knowledge. In such a case, a comprehensive exam (typically containing both the written and the oral part) is assigned. The previous proposed grade does not get "saved" for the student (i.e. to request that other / comprehensive exam carries a certain risk, as one may also end up worse than what it would have been - but alas, such is life), but it really provides an opportunity to have things take different turn *without* "padding up" the credit by "inventing" additional assignments. You may wish to consider this approach.


this is pretty much equivalent to credit by examination at the university. (And I have colleagues who offer students the option to accept the grade he receives in the comprehensive multiple choice Final exam.)

(Before you complain that it is multiple choice: The way the test is written, no guessing is possible; there will still be completely worked problems, but the answer must be absolutely correct, there is no partial credit - so this is much harder than a test where you show your work and can get some points even if your final answer is incorrect)

Credit by exam gives another shot at a good grade - but it means that homework and quizzes and other "easy" assignments will not contribute to the course grade. It is a good way to demonstrate mastery, but anybody with less than mastery will do worse.

#11 Ester Maria

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 01:07 PM

Credit by exam gives another shot at a good grade - but it means that homework and quizzes and other "easy" assignments will not contribute to the course grade. It is a good way to demonstrate mastery, but anybody with less than mastery will do worse.

I believe that is fine and just.
I really, honestly believe that the grade should measure (to the extent to which it is possible) *demonstrated knowledge* - not *effort* nor any other part of the process. That is why I like the system of credit by examination, even though I understand the whole pedagogical reasoning for the need to value other aspects with children, but personally... meh, your grade should be what you can demonstrate that you know, and before you are in the situation of having to demonstrate it, you should feel absolutely free to make mistakes or even to slack a little.
So that is how I do, university-style. :)

#12 regentrude

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 01:23 PM

I believe that is fine and just.
I really, honestly believe that the grade should measure (to the extent to which it is possible) *demonstrated knowledge* - not *effort* nor any other part of the process. That is why I like the system of credit by examination, even though I understand the whole pedagogical reasoning for the need to value other aspects with children, but personally... meh, your grade should be what you can demonstrate that you know, and before you are in the situation of having to demonstrate it, you should feel absolutely free to make mistakes or even to slack a little.
So that is how I do, university-style. :)


Unfortunately, that is not university style here in the US. We are very much encouraged (cough) to "motivate" our students to read the text by giving reading quizzes and to "reward" them for doing homework by grading homework.
Just assigning reading and homework and the reward being that you are prepared for the test when you do these things is not good enough... because we have to work with the "millenial generation" or whatever they call students and they can not be expected to do any bit of work without an immediate tangible reward. :banghead:Off my soapbox now... this is a major pet peeve of mine.
Like you, I grew up in a university culture where we had no more than two written tests per semester, and comprehensive oral finals at the end of a semester or year. No grades for homework or pop quizzes.
And those class grades did not even make it on the final transcript: on there, there are four grades only: math (comprehensive oral after 5 semesters), theoretical and experimental physics (comprehensive oral after 6 semesters each), and senior thesis. All my friends still agree that we never knew as much as the day before our comprehensive exams.

#13 Ester Maria

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 01:39 PM

Unfortunately, that is not university style here in the US. We are very much encouraged (cough) to "motivate" our students to read the text by giving reading quizzes and to "reward" them for doing homework by grading homework.
Just assigning reading and homework and the reward being that you are prepared for the test when you do these things is not good enough... because we have to work with the "millenial generation" or whatever they call students and they can not be expected to do any bit of work without an immediate tangible reward. :banghead:

:grouphug:

Anything further I could say on this topic would violate the etiquette rules, I am afraid, but do know that I hear you. Unfortunately, it is not endemic to the US anymore. The infantilism of the higher education scares the hell out of me - I cannot fathom an adult having to "motivate" another adult to do their due work. It is not like they are forced to be there, things like that should go without saying.

My real pet peeve is that it does not allow for the "filtering" of the BEST (truly academically best), as these "effort portions" tend to mask lack of knowledge and pad up artificially the whole grade. I am a huge meritocrat and I believe the grades should reflect the quality of demonstrated knowledge ALONE. My heart really goes out for all the professors who are forced, in the dictatorship of pedagogic "niceness" and "motivation", to compromise on these things. I know that I would probably face the exact same challenges if I were to teach in most institutions and it is just depressing. :( I cannot imagine how much it has to frustrate you on the daily basis.

#14 Brigid in NC

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 02:09 PM

i asked him if we could offer her extra credit and he said to come ask the hive.

I have always offered this. It seems to me that "extra work" is never a bad thing, especially if the student is willing and motivated. I have not found that the opportunity for extra credit (translated: more work) has been a crutch. My guys always wanted to be done and move on, not back up and redo. So I found little downside to this.
Good luck!
~Brigid

#15 kiana

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 03:58 PM

What were you thinking of doing for "extra credit" ?

I would allow retaking an exam before I would allow something like writing a paper or extra homework to substitute for low exam scores.

But honestly, learning the stuff well enough to not goof under pressure is different than learning it well enough to do the homework. Since she's still in the learning stages, allowing a restudy and retake seems reasonable.

#16 Myeightkiddies

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 09:27 PM

dd has gotten C's on her last two science tests.(apologia physical science)

she clearly understands the material, just goofed up or was not as thorough in her answers.

she is a perfectionist and asked if she could re-do the test. dh said no. i asked him if we could offer her extra credit and he said to come ask the hive.:)

tia-


Typically, this type of thing is situational - to me. Whether or not I award extra credit or allow re-testing is based on the reason why it is being requested.

In your situation, you believe that your daughter knows the work. You could retest her. Perhaps give her a day or two between the original test and the retest.

I agree with what was said previously. If you do allow constant retesting it does little good. The motivation to master it the first time diminishes, and retesting options are not always available in other situations (college).

You may want to tell her that this will be her only "free retest" this year. Does she want to use it on this test or save the "free retest" offer for another test that may be low later in the year. More than likely she will save the retesting offer for another time.

Now then, you mentioned that she has scored lower than anticipated in the last two tests. You need to determine specifically why this happened, if you are convinced she knows the material. Is she truly not prepared, not paying attention (or distracted), not understanding the questions, etc.? Fix whatever that is and the scores should increase.

While a "C" isn't great, it isn't bad (meaning she can raise her GPA easily this early on in the year). She has time to correct whatever it is that is the cause of the lower than anticipated grade. It could be motivation to do so.

In short, retest if you want but make it limited and conditional. Determine what is causing the lower grade.

#17 Margo out of lurking

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 06:18 AM

My dd is taking Apologia Chemistry as an outside class this year. The teacher offers extra credit questions at the end of each test.

Because science/math is not dd's thing, I allow open book tests (well, I would if she were doing chemistry at home).

Another possibility might be to give her a second chance to correct her mistakes, and then give her half credit if she answers correctly this time.

#18 Joan in GE

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 09:07 AM

Here's an old thread with a poll about bonus points... and ideas about extra credit..

#19 EKS

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 09:47 AM

My real pet peeve is that it does not allow for the "filtering" of the BEST (truly academically best), as these "effort portions" tend to mask lack of knowledge and pad up artificially the whole grade.


Actually, if you do the calculations, it might not be as bad as you think.

I've looked extensively at high school weighting policies and the most common percentage for non-exam or non-exam-like work (homework completion, participation, effort, attendance, whatever) is 30%. If you assume the student gets 100% of the non-exam points here is how the grades will change:

95 becomes a 96.5 (95 x 0.7 + 100 x 0.3)
90 becomes a 93
85 becomes 89.5
80 becomes 86
75 becomes 82.5
70 becomes 79

So these policies *don't* change the best students' grades appreciably, but as you go down, the non-exam credit has a bigger and bigger impact. So, instead of making it difficult to filter the best of the best, it actually makes it more difficult to filter the good from the mediocre.

#20 kiana

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 11:17 AM

Meh, yeah.

Y'know, I'd rather not give credit for anything but the exams. Quizzes and homework would ideally be given for students own benefit, which would mean classtime wouldn't need to be spent on quizzes, but self-quizzes posted online regularly.

But. If too many students fail, the DEPARTMENT can get in trouble with the people who want to have the max number of enrolled students for their tuition. So I'm left with two alternatives.

a) I can compromise my standards for what students ought to be able to do on an exam and pass more people.
B) I can reward them with points for what they ought to be doing anyway (homework and checking on a regular basis, self-quizzing to keep themselves current with the course material) and thus drag them to a higher performance, so that I can feel they've learned what they ought from the course.

Neither a) nor B) results in students learning more study skills, management and self-motivation. But B) at least results in them learning the course material, which is why I've chosen that.

#21 regentrude

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 11:47 AM

Meh, yeah.

Y'know, I'd rather not give credit for anything but the exams. Quizzes and homework would ideally be given for students own benefit, which would mean classtime wouldn't need to be spent on quizzes, but self-quizzes posted online regularly.

But. If too many students fail, the DEPARTMENT can get in trouble with the people who want to have the max number of enrolled students for their tuition. So I'm left with two alternatives.

a) I can compromise my standards for what students ought to be able to do on an exam and pass more people.
B) I can reward them with points for what they ought to be doing anyway (homework and checking on a regular basis, self-quizzing to keep themselves current with the course material) and thus drag them to a higher performance, so that I can feel they've learned what they ought from the course.

Neither a) nor B) results in students learning more study skills, management and self-motivation. But B) at least results in them learning the course material, which is why I've chosen that.


I completely understand the dilemma and choose the same solution, but I am not sure your conclusion is correct for all classes. I don't think it works in mine.
If B) resulted in the students really learning the material better, they would be able to perform better on exams - and then we could just give the exams and expect a good performance.
What I am seeing is that giving grades for homework has the major effect of padding a course grade by rewarding underperforming students for simply taking the time to do the problems without really mastering the material through doing so. The homework grades drop dramatically if, instead of collecting homework (which can potentially be copied form a classmate or Cramster or done without a real understanding), I have my students rework one of their prepared homework problems in class on the day HW is due. It is very discouraging to see how many of the students who would have handed in reasonably complete homework papers and gotten a high grade on it are unable to recall how a problem is worked the very next day. They went through the motions, but did not understand what they were doing. So, grading HW rewards busy work, not learning.
(The students are actually learning are the ones who would do the homework anyway.)
Sigh. This is such a messed up system.

#22 kiana

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 11:58 AM

I completely understand the dilemma and choose the same solution, but I am not sure your conclusion is correct for all classes. I don't think it works in mine.
If B) resulted in the students really learning the material better, they would be able to perform better on exams - and then we could just give the exams and expect a good performance.
What I am seeing is that giving grades for homework has the major effect of padding a course grade by rewarding underperforming students for simply taking the time to do the problems without really mastering the material through doing so. The homework grades drop dramatically if, instead of collecting homework (which can potentially be copied form a classmate or Cramster or done without a real understanding), I have my students rework one of their prepared homework problems in class on the day HW is due. It is very discouraging to see how many of the students who would have handed in reasonably complete homework papers and gotten a high grade on it are unable to recall how a problem is worked the very next day. They went through the motions, but did not understand what they were doing. So, grading HW rewards busy work, not learning.
(The students are actually learning are the ones who would do the homework anyway.)
Sigh. This is such a messed up system.


Okay -- make it a higher proportion of learning, anyway :D

I give a brief quiz, covering 2 of the homework problems, on the same day homework is due. This is worth 2/3 of the homework points and the other 1/3 is just completing it. The students know that I pull problems directly out of the homework and change them a bit to make them less recognizable -- but the types of problems between the quizzes and the homework do not differ appreciably.

This has two benefits. Firstly, homework marking is far quicker, because I am only assigning marks for % of problems completed, and merely marking errors otherwise. Secondly, a student who has copied the homework without understanding is likely to do very badly on the quiz. The better students, on the other hand, work through the more difficult homework problems more than once to ensure that they really understand what's going on behind them.

#23 Ester Maria

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 12:59 PM

So these policies *don't* change the best students' grades appreciably, but as you go down, the non-exam credit has a bigger and bigger impact. So, instead of making it difficult to filter the best of the best, it actually makes it more difficult to filter the good from the mediocre.

Okay, and then you get a 19-year old Ester.

Ester appears in NONE of the lectures, she does NONE of the homework, she rarely attends seminar - but she writes the best exam/essay that you have seen in several generations, a publishable one.

Do you award her 70% and call it "fair" with regards to *demonstrated knowledge*? She is not your best student only that year - she is the best student you have had in GENERATIONS. But, heck it, she just does not fit well into a box (:tongue_smilie:). You do a detailed oral exam after the written one, and you are completely. blown. off. You call your colleagues to audit the second part of the exam. Little Ester is brilliant.

Then you get another student who has a total of 71% because they have diligently done all they were supposed to do, but they are just... blah. Intellectual mediocres, or dumber. One of those "you'll never amount to anything significant" cases.

Do you seriously reward mediocrity and punish brilliance just because somebody missed out on the "silly" points for attendance, etc.? This is not school, this is not an institution which places much of the value on "character development", pedagogy, etc. This is an academic institution, where you CANNOT reasonably grade anything other than demonstrated knowledge or you are doing a huge injustice to the field and your future colleagues.
Because you know, one day, when they present their diplomas, little Ester will be outshined by somebody who is not even in her league. The doors will be opened for the mediocres, not the good ones, because of such silly policies.

Now, we MAY discuss character issues such as "the little Ester should know these things in advance and adapt, etc.". But these are not kids, these are adults, who are there to get their professional qualifications, not character judgments and forced pedagogy. By rewarding anyting other than pure demonstrated knowledge and skill, in my opinion, you are committing a kind of fraud. University should have the mechanisms which filter the best.

Also, I could care less about pedagogical excuses for these points. These are adults. It should be their CHOICE whether they wish to attend - their only duty is the one of the exam. The university should offer a framework to study, but not to *force* it. This is my HUGE pet peeve, at the core of the newest educational reforms, and one of the reasons why I am DONE with teaching - because I shall not like to "play school" with adults, to write pluses and minuses and nonsense like that, or weigh anything other than demonstrated knowledge as a part of the grade. :confused:

(Vent off. Sorry if I sound too fierce. A sensitive topic. LOL. :tongue_smilie:)

Edited by Ester Maria, 17 November 2011 - 01:01 PM.


#24 EKS

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 02:29 PM

Okay, and then you get a 19-year old Ester.

Ester appears in NONE of the lectures, she does NONE of the homework, she rarely attends seminar - but she writes the best exam/essay that you have seen in several generations, a publishable one.

Do you award her 70% and call it "fair" with regards to *demonstrated knowledge*? She is not your best student only that year - she is the best student you have had in GENERATIONS. But, heck it, she just does not fit well into a box (:tongue_smilie:). You do a detailed oral exam after the written one, and you are completely. blown. off. You call your colleagues to audit the second part of the exam. Little Ester is brilliant.

Then you get another student who has a total of 71% because they have diligently done all they were supposed to do, but they are just... blah. Intellectual mediocres, or dumber. One of those "you'll never amount to anything significant" cases.

Do you seriously reward mediocrity and punish brilliance just because somebody missed out on the "silly" points for attendance, etc.? This is not school, this is not an institution which places much of the value on "character development", pedagogy, etc. This is an academic institution, where you CANNOT reasonably grade anything other than demonstrated knowledge or you are doing a huge injustice to the field and your future colleagues.
Because you know, one day, when they present their diplomas, little Ester will be outshined by somebody who is not even in her league. The doors will be opened for the mediocres, not the good ones, because of such silly policies.

Now, we MAY discuss character issues such as "the little Ester should know these things in advance and adapt, etc.". But these are not kids, these are adults, who are there to get their professional qualifications, not character judgments and forced pedagogy. By rewarding anyting other than pure demonstrated knowledge and skill, in my opinion, you are committing a kind of fraud. University should have the mechanisms which filter the best.

Also, I could care less about pedagogical excuses for these points. These are adults. It should be their CHOICE whether they wish to attend - their only duty is the one of the exam. The university should offer a framework to study, but not to *force* it. This is my HUGE pet peeve, at the core of the newest educational reforms, and one of the reasons why I am DONE with teaching - because I shall not like to "play school" with adults, to write pluses and minuses and nonsense like that, or weigh anything other than demonstrated knowledge as a part of the grade. :confused:

(Vent off. Sorry if I sound too fierce. A sensitive topic. LOL. :tongue_smilie:)


Actually, I was talking about high school grading policies. I agree with you that college course grades should be based only on graded output requirements.

#25 Ester Maria

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 02:36 PM

Actually, I was talking about high school grading policies. I agree with you that college course grades should be based only on graded output requirements.

Ah, sorry. I thought it was about college since you quoted what I had written in that context. So we agree - except that I would personally extend much of the university system to high school, if I could. :tongue_smilie:

#26 regentrude

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 02:41 PM

Ester appears in NONE of the lectures, she does NONE of the homework, she rarely attends seminar - but she writes the best exam/essay that you have seen in several generations, a publishable one.

Do you award her 70% and call it "fair" with regards to *demonstrated knowledge*? She is not your best student only that year - she is the best student you have had in GENERATIONS. But, heck it, she just does not fit well into a box (:tongue_smilie:). You do a detailed oral exam after the written one, and you are completely. blown. off. You call your colleagues to audit the second part of the exam. Little Ester is brilliant.

Then you get another student who has a total of 71% because they have diligently done all they were supposed to do, but they are just... blah. Intellectual mediocres, or dumber. One of those "you'll never amount to anything significant" cases.

Do you seriously reward mediocrity and punish brilliance just because somebody missed out on the "silly" points for attendance, etc.? This is not school, this is not an institution which places much of the value on "character development", pedagogy, etc. This is an academic institution, where you CANNOT reasonably grade anything other than demonstrated knowledge or you are doing a huge injustice to the field and your future colleagues.
Because you know, one day, when they present their diplomas, little Ester will be outshined by somebody who is not even in her league. The doors will be opened for the mediocres, not the good ones, because of such silly policies.

Now, we MAY discuss character issues such as "the little Ester should know these things in advance and adapt, etc.". But these are not kids, these are adults, who are there to get their professional qualifications, not character judgments and forced pedagogy. By rewarding anyting other than pure demonstrated knowledge and skill, in my opinion, you are committing a kind of fraud. University should have the mechanisms which filter the best.


This is exactly one of the issues I am wrestling with when setting up point structures for my courses. And I am not happy with the way our hand-holding punishes the strong student who is not jumping through all the hoops. But I do see two aspects here that make me not lose sleep over it:

1. The student knows in advance what the rules are and can make the choice to play along or not. I am not surprising anybody: they know from the beginning of the semester what kind of attendance and assignments will be required. So, a student who wanted to could get his act together and.just.do.whatever.is.needed.
Not because it is character building, but because, to a certain extent, it mimics a realistic situation. My colleagues, for instance, do not get anywhere by proving brilliance once a year; they get somewhere because they crank out x papers, write xx reviews, xxx grant applications, all with deadlines. If they can not continuously perform well, all their knowledge does not help.
So, if the professor want to have problem abc solved by Thursday, they should be able to solve problem abc by Thursday. If an assignment is to give a presentation in class, they should be there to present.

2. A student who completely refuses to conform to any rules and fulfill any expectations can always choose to accept credit by examination. In the ten years I have been teaching, this has not happened once.

Clearly, one can go overboard with little hoops to jump through. But I would expect an intelligent student to evaluate the situation and to make a prudent choice: either you play along, or you accept that, if 20% of the course points comes from homework, you can not achieve more than 80% if you choose to not submit assignments.
So while I would love to see an "examination only" system, I would consider the brilliant student who can not bring himself to acsquiesce to rules less capable of succeeding in the outside world... and if I were the prospective employer, I would probably prefer to hire the second best who has shown he can play by the rules, meet deadlines, and get along in a system.

#27 Tibbie Dunbar

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 02:49 PM

Unfortunately, that is not university style here in the US. We are very much encouraged (cough) to "motivate" our students to read the text by giving reading quizzes and to "reward" them for doing homework by grading homework.
Just assigning reading and homework and the reward being that you are prepared for the test when you do these things is not good enough... because we have to work with the "millenial generation" or whatever they call students and they can not be expected to do any bit of work without an immediate tangible reward. :banghead:Off my soapbox now... this is a major pet peeve of mine.
Like you, I grew up in a university culture where we had no more than two written tests per semester, and comprehensive oral finals at the end of a semester or year. No grades for homework or pop quizzes.
And those class grades did not even make it on the final transcript: on there, there are four grades only: math (comprehensive oral after 5 semesters), theoretical and experimental physics (comprehensive oral after 6 semesters each), and senior thesis. All my friends still agree that we never knew as much as the day before our comprehensive exams.


:grouphug:

Anything further I could say on this topic would violate the etiquette rules, I am afraid, but do know that I hear you. Unfortunately, it is not endemic to the US anymore. The infantilism of the higher education scares the hell out of me - I cannot fathom an adult having to "motivate" another adult to do their due work. It is not like they are forced to be there, things like that should go without saying.

My real pet peeve is that it does not allow for the "filtering" of the BEST (truly academically best), as these "effort portions" tend to mask lack of knowledge and pad up artificially the whole grade. I am a huge meritocrat and I believe the grades should reflect the quality of demonstrated knowledge ALONE. My heart really goes out for all the professors who are forced, in the dictatorship of pedagogic "niceness" and "motivation", to compromise on these things. I know that I would probably face the exact same challenges if I were to teach in most institutions and it is just depressing. :( I cannot imagine how much it has to frustrate you on the daily basis.


I appreciate you both for sharing these thoughts on the boards. I've decided to go the exam route for high school grades, partly to avoid this constant rewarding that engenders entitlement.

Their martial arts instruction reinforces the concept. In TKD, forms, sparring steps, and physical condition are practiced daily. Mock fights occur three times per week. When it is time to test for the next belt, all the physical and mental discipline boils down to a few moments before the Grand Master. He is very kind but very strict. He knows what training went into that break or that perfect form, and the lack of training is not hidden from him.

I really love using this approach to a whole life. Academics, religion and faith, martial arts, health and hygiene...everything has to do with building a whole person who can demonstrate what intrinsically belongs to him at a moment's notice.

#28 Ester Maria

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 02:52 PM

My colleagues, for instance, do not get anywhere by proving brilliance once a year; they get somewhere because they crank out x papers, write xx reviews, xxx grant applications, all with deadlines. If they can not continuously perform well, all their knowledge does not help.

Another nonsense if you ask me. Quantity over quality, with ridiculous attempts to "measure" "popularity" by how many times you got cited, and then fabulous university rankings on bogus criteria like that, etc. I like the old system the best. I want a university, not a corporation. Yes, I know that I am old-fashioned and anachronistic, but I will continue to rave about it until I die. :D

And Kant had ten "silent" years before he produced one of the most referenced, studied and highly held works in the history of philosophy. It is not all about regularity.

A student who completely refuses to conform to any rules and fulfill any expectations can always choose to accept credit by examination. In the ten years I have been teaching, this has not happened once.

THAT is what I am talking about! That is how it should be. You refuse criteria and modus operandi - fine, there you have credit by examination. That is what little Ester would have done. :tongue_smilie:

I fully agree with you about getting along with the system, by the way. I always tell my kids that the intelligent people adapt the world to themselves and themselves to the world in the best ratio possible, rather than kick their heads against a wall. But I still believe the "old system" was the best.

ETA: I am surprised, though, that nobody USES the possibility of credit by examination.

Edited by Ester Maria, 17 November 2011 - 02:56 PM.


#29 Dana

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 03:13 PM

What I am seeing is that giving grades for homework has the major effect of padding a course grade by rewarding underperforming students for simply taking the time to do the problems without really mastering the material through doing so. The homework grades drop dramatically if, instead of collecting homework (which can potentially be copied form a classmate or Cramster or done without a real understanding), I have my students rework one of their prepared homework problems in class on the day HW is due. It is very discouraging to see how many of the students who would have handed in reasonably complete homework papers and gotten a high grade on it are unable to recall how a problem is worked the very next day. They went through the motions, but did not understand what they were doing. So, grading HW rewards busy work, not learning.
(The students are actually learning are the ones who would do the homework anyway.)
Sigh. This is such a messed up system.


I don't know how well it might work for you, but I've been very pleased with Pearson's MyMathLab software. It's the same that's at the Interact link. They may or may not have something similar for working problems for physics.

I have seen students who do the homework do better in the course.
Of course, I am working with lower-level students (no courses that are transferable), but the program does avoid the issue of students just copying. And I also assign quizzes that are basically pretests. The questions are shuffled around and student scores on tests are generally within 10 points of a quiz score.

#30 regentrude

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 03:24 PM

Another nonsense if you ask me. Quantity over quality, with ridiculous attempts to "measure" "popularity" by how many times you got cited, and then fabulous university rankings on bogus criteria like that, etc.


I do not think it has to do with quantity over quality. They do not do this because somebody is counting it, but because, unless you publish the result first, you don't get credit. And unless you publish your results, you can not enter into dialogue with other scientists - if you just work on your own stuff and don't share, your work is useless.
Just last year, DH was in a situation where his group and another group were both extremely close to new results and where it was a question of days who would get done first. That's when they worked nights and weekends, nonstop. (They ended up talking to each other and arranging for their papers to be published back-to-back in the same issue of the journal).
You have to write the reviews not because it's about quantity, but because it is a service you do to your community and which you expect somebody else to do for you as well. Every paper needs two peer reviews. Every grant application needs several. Somebody has to do them, and has to do them promptly - the whole system of scientific publishing depends on it.


And Kant had ten "silent" years before he produced one of the most referenced, studied and highly held works in the history of philosophy. It is not all about regularity.

This does not work in science. Except for extremely rare, out-there topics, you can not study literature or do calculations for ten years: somebody else will have solved the problem, or contributed new experiments, or developed new techniques, or the problem may have become obsolete. You have to stay on the ball because of the vast amount of knowledge and the fast changes it undergoes (which, incidentally, is why I never made it back into research after being a SAHM for four years - too much time away from active research).
This is quite a different situation from a philosopher who ponders general issues which do not go away or evolve or get solved.

ETA: I am surprised, though, that nobody USES the possibility of credit by examination.

Because it is harder. Because most students have never learned to study independently without hand holding.

#31 Ester Maria

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 03:27 PM

Because it is harder. Because most students have never learned to study independently without hand holding.

Are you allowed to make your own rules, though? Can you decide that, for your classes, it is 100% exam? Or would it be "suggested" to you not to do so?

#32 regentrude

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 03:38 PM

Are you allowed to make your own rules, though? Can you decide that, for your classes, it is 100% exam? Or would it be "suggested" to you not to do so?


I would either have to lower the standards dramatically, or I would end up with more than 50% of my class failing the course. There used to be a black list of instructors whose percentage of D's, F's and withdrawals totaled more than 25%... rumor has it, the list is gone.
The administration and department would "suggest", in an extremely persuasive way, that this is not a good idea. I would most likely not be teaching again.

#33 kiana

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 03:38 PM

Are you allowed to make your own rules, though? Can you decide that, for your classes, it is 100% exam? Or would it be "suggested" to you not to do so?


You hypothetically could.

But if your failure rates were drastically higher than everyone else's in the department, it would probably be suggested that you do otherwise.

Even if your department all decides to do it together, it will bring pressure from other parts of the university due to declining enrollment (students flunk out) or students taking courses elsewhere to get them transferred in.

You simply can't be the lone bastion of tough standards/old-style grading. Until and unless a complete reform of the entire university is accomplished (and good luck) you need to play within the rules.

#34 kiana

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 03:43 PM

I would add that in at least most quantitative departments it is possible to "challenge" at least the lower-level courses if one is unusually well-prepared or good at self-teaching.

In the graduate-level mathematics courses I took, a far higher percentage was on coursework than I had been used to from undergraduate, simply because the problems were too long and complicated to be solved within an examination period.

#35 smilesonly

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 08:22 PM

Thank you so much for the many replies and discussion!:grouphug:

Dh and I will be reading through this thread Saturday and will come up with a plan.

~cass

#36 AngieW in Texas

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 08:55 PM

I teach a chemistry class for homeschoolers. I allow kids to correct their tests to get back half of the points they missed.

Several different teachers my oldest and my middle have had at community college have allowed revisions to get half-credit back, so I thought it was an appropriate thing to offer.

I don't offer credit back on the homework, just on the tests.

#37 StephanieZ

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Posted 17 November 2011 - 11:39 PM

I recently offered extra credit for the chem class I am teaching (just three kids, 2 of mine + 1) b/c I felt like I hadn't prepared them well enough for their first quiz. They all got in the low 80s (quite poor for these high achievers, lol), and there were a few questions that all 3 missed much or all of.

I realized that I hadn't prepared them well enough. I figure that if all (or most) of my students miss the same topics, then there is a failure in me. :)

Anyway, that's harder to judge if you only have one student, lol.

What I did was to offer on TODAY's quiz, I put two of the problems (with minor changes) that they'd all missed last time. (I'd already reviewed the materials thoroughly after the problem quiz.)

I didn't tell them until today about the extra credit, and I do think that doing poorly made a big impression on them, as all three were *very* well prepared for today's quiz. I didn't want them to slack off and think I'd always "fix" their errors by offering extra credit, but I didn't want them to have a poor score on the first quiz hanging over them all year either.

#38 JennyD

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 01:12 AM

I would add that in at least most quantitative departments it is possible to "challenge" at least the lower-level courses if one is unusually well-prepared or good at self-teaching.

In the graduate-level mathematics courses I took, a far higher percentage was on coursework than I had been used to from undergraduate, simply because the problems were too long and complicated to be solved within an examination period.


I sometimes teach university courses in which the entire grade is based on a final exam. Furthermore, the exams are anonymous, so I don't even know how the individual students did until after I have submitted the grades to the registrar and they send me back a list of names to match up to the numbers. There is also a prescribed curve that all faculty members are "strongly encouraged" to follow.

In general, I am not totally sold on the system as a pedagogical approach. It is very efficient for the instructor, obviously, and I do think that the anonymity improves fairness, but (1) as the pp mentioned, only certain kinds of questions work for this format, which is very limiting; and (2) I think that there just isn't enough feedback, both for the students and for me. It's hard for the students to know how they're doing, and when the class is big, it can be very difficult to figure out that I haven't explained something clearly or thoroughly enough until we get to the exam and they all demonstrate the exact same misunderstanding, at which point it's too late for me to fix it.

I will say that I have never had the experience of having a student who never comes to class then acing the exam. I have had plenty of 'sleeper' stars, who never say a word the whole semester and then do fabulously well on the exam, but the students who check out entirely generally do very badly. Which is good, I suppose -- at least I'm adding SOME value to their education :D

When I teach a discussion class, I always include a small participation grade. I'm not going to grade attendance, but I want them to have an incentive to speak up, because that makes for a much better, more productive class.

Edited by JennyD, 18 November 2011 - 01:16 AM.


#39 Renee in NC

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 08:49 AM

You are likely getting those requests because students have been doing that with other teachers. My son's teachers did that for him all the time in various ways (not sure if on tests specifically, but general course credit). I didn't necessarily approve, but I knew that a pleasant kid like him was a welcome addition to a harried teacher's classroom, so... Since he did well in college, I figure it didn't ruin him. His teachers did often remind him that college would be a whole different scenario.

So it's good to be aware that your student's grades may be compared with the grades of students who *were* given the opportunity for extra credit.

I know one of the Geometry resources we used (I think the Callahan videos) said that they returned tests to kids with marks but no hints, so that the student could re-do the problem for half credit. I have no idea how this could be managed in a classroom setting, but he said they did it routinely in their teaching.

So, I don't necessarily think it's ideal, but it is done, and it isn't always ruining the kids.

Julie


My oldest's experience was the opposite.

He went to a charter high school and his teachers routinely gave him extra credit, accepted late work, let him re-do tests, etc. His test and quiz scores were often very low, so they gave a higher weight to his projects and papers (which he did well on.) It was unofficial accommodation for his ADHD.

They didn't do him any favors. Now, in college, he isn't doing so hot because he never learned to work hard and live up to the expectations. In addition, he never learned to accommodate his ADHD on his own. It's a life lesson, but one I wish he had gotten in high school.

#40 Renee in NC

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 09:05 AM

I appreciate you both for sharing these thoughts on the boards. I've decided to go the exam route for high school grades, partly to avoid this constant rewarding that engenders entitlement.

Their martial arts instruction reinforces the concept. In TKD, forms, sparring steps, and physical condition are practiced daily. Mock fights occur three times per week. When it is time to test for the next belt, all the physical and mental discipline boils down to a few moments before the Grand Master. He is very kind but very strict. He knows what training went into that break or that perfect form, and the lack of training is not hidden from him.

I really love using this approach to a whole life. Academics, religion and faith, martial arts, health and hygiene...everything has to do with building a whole person who can demonstrate what intrinsically belongs to him at a moment's notice.


:iagree: I think this also rewards hard work, but not instantly. Generally, if you do the work leading up to an exam, you will do well on the exam. How much work it takes is going to depend on the student, though, as some just plain have to work harder to get the same result.

This is why I struggle with accommodations for my students with LDs. I try not to give them anything they won't get in real life. Too much accommodation and they miss the chance to learn to work around their weaknesses.

#41 smilesonly

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 10:31 PM

I just wanted to update on our decision.

Dd's grade is now based on( per module) 10% lab work and 90% exam. So basically what a pp said-25% for module test and 10% for completed lab. We decided no extra credit, no credit for homework,note taking, quizzes,etc.

Thx.



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