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I have been tutoring a college student in College Algebra and have been surprised how much she gets to "redo" things if she doesn't make the grade she wants. She can redo homework problems if she misses them because the computer will generate new, similar problems. She's even been able to take section tests again to try and get a higher grade. She didn't make bad grades to start with (like Bs), but she's been able to get some As by retesting.

 

I am not a person who remembers details, but I don't think we got to do that in many of my classes. I went to a private, Christian college which was know for a great education. She is going to a 4 year state college nearby, but I don't think it's difficult to be accepted there.

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I've seen some of the online software for the new math stuff, and it's pretty neat. I have no clue if that's becoming the norm. I'm sure it's not in many places. Even if it is for certain levels and situations, how much does that differ from what homeschoolers do, dropping the failed class from the transcript and having the kid redo it in the name of mastery (and NOT putting the failed course on). We don't even blink an eye at that. So we call it teaching to mastery, do it ourselves, and complain that kids shouldn't fall through the cracks. I think it's kind of neat if they're shaking things up and actually rewarding the extra effort to get mastery. The bummer is if that student gets the same grade as the kid who got it the first time. But whatever, surely they've got a system for that. Maybe they use this procedure in those remedial level classes to encourage kids to get their foundation?

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At my younger son's private school, they allow them to correct problems they missed on tests for half credit. Homework is graded for completion, and if a lot of people did poorly on an exam, the teacher will give an extra credit problem set to boost scores. It's totally ridiculous! When my older son went to this school (and had the same teacher for math), he had a C average on the exams (the first score) and an A in the class!

 

I do like the computer generating a similar problem if you get a problem wrong though. My older son is taking a college math class this quarter, and this is the first time he's had computer generated homework. I love the way the homework is not done until it's right.

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I think the homework doing that is brilliant. Until now this hasn't been something that you could DO in large classes, simply because the professor isn't able to keep up with the grading. But it is much better for learning than 'You got a 79%, let's move on!'

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At older dd's school this is allowed for math and science classes. If a student wishes to retake a test they sign a contract, do the extra work, retake the test, and keep the grade from the second exam. Dd has never retaken one but she knows many who do, and many of them are only retaking to try for a perfect score (they already have an A on the test but want it to be perfect). I'm wondering if this continues into high school and college here.

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I haven't really heard of it, but I like it! The point of a class is to learn the material. If you miss a problem and the computer gives you a new one to work on, you're learning more than if you turn in work, it's marked wrong and that's the end of it. Granted, the test grade should be a reflection of what you actually know, but for homework and practice problems, I think it's a fantastic idea. (And not just for college either.....I think it should be like the all the way through!)

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One of my co-workers has a son that took one look at the syllabus for his math class at the local high school and laughed. If he shows up for class, participates in the class, and completes the homework (just puts an answer on the blank, not gets it correct), he would pass the class.

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Hey guys,

I literally signed up just to comment on this! :) (However, based on my teaching experience, I am heavily researching homeschooling, Charlotte Mason, Well-trained Mind, Classical Conversations, etc so I can be prepared when my daughter is school aged. I am so disillusioned with public education now, it's not even funny!)

 

Anyway, to answer the question....

I teach 4th grade. If we have a summative (or quarter final) and I have kids missing a lot of questions, I do hand the test back and tell them to look it over and correct the ones that are wrong. Often times, they rushed and made errors that are easily fixed. If I can tell they have no concept of what I want or what the test requires, I don't bother because it's either going to give a false positive or just provide more frustration for the student.

 

The high school is where I have a big issue. Every student knows that if they bomb the first test, they can retake it at another time. Not a different test, mind you. The same test. So, a lot of kids will not study, take the test, fail it, remember what was asked, study for that, and ace the test. To me, more than learning information or concepts to help them succeed, they are learning to beat the system. It really bothers me.

 

In general, though, if a student makes a mistake, I don't mind letting them correct it. We all make mistakes and we all have opportunities to correct those mistakes. We learn from our failures. Having them go back and redo is a good learning opportunity - academically and for real-life.

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I am not taking a math class right now, but I am taking an Educaational Technology class. We have 8 quizzes this term and have had the opportunity to retake each one. So this is how it goes. There is a pre-quiz, which is essentially all of the questions on the post-quiz, but with no lesson. Then there is a lesson and post-quiz. Then, at the end of mid-term and now end of term, we have been able to retake them again, which means three opportunities to get a good grade on the quiz! This does baffle me and amazes me that there is so much leeway. I do want to add that the normal grading scale for this school is 90-100 for an A, which has been adjusted by this professor to be a 94-100 for an A, which is what it was when I was in high school. I do have to make a higher grade for an A, but still, too many chances.

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I guess I have a different mentality. I'm not saying there shouldn't be exceptions, but I don't think a person who makes a decent passing grade should get to retake a class just to bring up the grade. Knowing they can retake a test would lead many to not bother to prepare well the first time (as BushMommy said). It's a lot of work for teachers to create whole other tests and grade again if it's a subject without a computer generated test or computer scoring. Shouldn't a college degree be somewhat difficult to acquire? If not, what is it worth?

 

I'm just afraid of the real purpose of it. Is it really about mastery, or is it to keep kids in school in order to keep the money rolling in? I know my dh, who is laid off from public high school, was expected to let kids retake tests, and it wasn't about mastery. It was about keeping kids from flunking or dropping out to help the graduation numbers.

 

When I was in school you had to work hard to get good grades. If you cared about it, you did the work and it paid off. I just want this generation to have to work hard to get what they need in life because I'm afraid so much is being spoon-fed to them, that our society will suffer in the long run. There are many things in life that you don't get to "do-over", so I want them to realize that. Does that make any sense?

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Not when I went to college, and I went to a "prestigious" private college. In either calc or physics (can't remember, both had a TON of math!)I actually got penalized (as in a 0%) on a test I missed because student health services sent me to the ER with an eye infection and I missed the test!

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I have been tutoring a college student in College Algebra and have been surprised how much she gets to "redo" things if she doesn't make the grade she wants. She can redo homework problems if she misses them because the computer will generate new, similar problems. She's even been able to take section tests again to try and get a higher grade. She didn't make bad grades to start with (like Bs), but she's been able to get some As by retesting.

 

I am not a person who remembers details, but I don't think we got to do that in many of my classes. I went to a private, Christian college which was know for a great education. She is going to a 4 year state college nearby, but I don't think it's difficult to be accepted there.

 

 

In most of my high school classes, students who got below a C on a test were permitted to re-take it but the maximum score that could be earned on the re-test was a C. Basically the teachers wanted to keep students from giving up.

 

At my college, students were permitted to re-take an entire course with the first grade being hidden but the course title still listed on the transcript as having been taken. I took Organic Chemstry 1 twice because the first time I got a C+ (that was actually the median grade for the notorious "weed out" class). My transcript listed the B I got the second time around and a notation that I had taken the same class the previous term.

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I will never forget the math class I took in college for which 40% of the grade was the midterm and 50% was the final, and 10% was homework. I actually did fine, but I'd never had a class like that!

 

 

At my university, we did not have midterms and no credit was given for homework. Our grade was solely determined by the oral final at the end of the semester, and our final math grade on the transcript was the comprehensive final after five semesters of math, testing the entire material.

(Physics was similar, with the final grade in theoretical and experimental (the only thing that actually appeared on your records), respectively, being a comprehensive exam over three years in each discipline.)

A much better measure for long term mastery and retention than giving tests every four weeks.

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Depends on the school and on the individual teacher, I would guess.

 

DSs are both at the local community college, and one DS has had two different classes so far (a 200-level Sociology class, and a 100-level Intro to Computers class) that have had bi-weekly quizzes on the chapter readings. The quizzes are timed (so once you open it up on-line, you have to keep going and finish before it times out). And, you get up to 3 tries on the quiz. So if you bomb, the quiz, you take it again (and it will have up to 50% different questions, but all still on the same chapter). And if you still didn't do well, you can do it AGAIN.

 

I'm wondering if this is a factor of both these classes were completely on-line classes, and, the CC's system regularly goes down or freezes. So maybe they have to have the re-do option in case the CC's server goes down while you're in the midst of taking a test??

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I like the idea of redoing a test for a maximum of a C. It stops students from gaming the system by retaking the test to get a perfect score, but it stops people from giving up and just letting the whole year go. It's a hell of a lot better than 'no score below 50' or 'magical extra credit', too.

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Shouldn't a college degree be somewhat difficult to acquire? If not, what is it worth?

 

 

 

I agree completely. I think this is just another way of ensuring that all kids are equal. There are no smart kids, there are no dumb kids, everybody is the same.

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I have been tutoring a college student in College Algebra and have been surprised how much she gets to "redo" things if she doesn't make the grade she wants. She can redo homework problems if she misses them because the computer will generate new, similar problems. She's even been able to take section tests again to try and get a higher grade.

Wow. Not at my DD's community college. Once you start a test (or certain other assignments) for any class you you're done. No coming back to edit, no redo. Quite a few of the tests are proctored at the testing lab also, instead of just online. In her early morning English class they had a few snow days and didn't get to a certain assignment in class. That assignment is optional now, but it doesn't count as extra credit but rather an additional assignment figured into your average, should you choose to do it.

 

I suppose for homework, especially in an online class, the chance to redo, to really understand is important.

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There is nothing wrong with this if it is an online class. It's called MymathLab and it is used in place of an actual teacher. They figure with an actual teacher, you'd get instruction on how to master it.

 

 

Since this is online with no teacher instruction, you get a little extra help. You also usually get many tries on the homework and two on the tests. Only midterms and finals are proctored at the school.

 

Some course that don't use a lab program don't give the student all that. The online tests for a humanities class usually only gives two tries on the test but it may not have homework, opting instead for a discussion post or a paper.

 

This is all at my community college that is a feeder school for a major university. And even that university has this policy for online courses. Again, it's only done this way because you are absent actual one to one face time with your professor where you could talk things through. Online, there is much waiting for teacher interaction and no real way to hash things out so the information sticks.

 

I do resent the fact that some think I'm being dumbed down or not working for my grade or not getting a rigorous education simply because I have the opportunity to take multiple tests or homework assignments though.

 

It had nothing to do with any of that.

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There is nothing wrong with this if it is an online class. It's called MymathLab and it is used in place of an actual teacher. They figure with an actual teacher, you'd get instruction on how to master it.

 

 

Since this is online with no teacher instruction, you get a little extra help. You also usually get many tries on the homework and two on the tests. Only midterms and finals are proctored at the school.

 

Some course that don't use a lab program don't give the student all that. The online tests for a humanities class usually only gives two tries on the test but it may not have homework, opting instead for a discussion post or a paper.

 

This is all at my community college that is a feeder school for a major university. And even that university has this policy for online courses. Again, it's only done this way because you are absent actual one to one face time with your professor where you could talk things through. Online, there is much waiting for teacher interaction and no real way to hash things out so the information sticks.

 

I do resent the fact that some think I'm being dumbed down or not working for my grade or not getting a rigorous education simply because I have the opportunity to take multiple tests or homework assignments though.

 

It had nothing to do with any of that.

 

I'm sorry it it offended you. I have seen so many things from the high school where my dh has been that I was afraid the same mentality has been spilling over into colleges.

 

It is My Math Lab that she uses, but she attends class 2 days a week with an actual teacher. I don't have as much an issue with the homework as I do the testing. If someone makes a good grade such as a B, why should they be given another chance?

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I think for kids in the middle, this kind of thing works great. I think for very strong and very weak students, it is less ideal. A certain type of very strong student would react to this sort of structure with the idea that because they CAN redo everything until they get 100, they must, or they should. That's not really reasonable: if you make a couple careless errors on a math test and get a 92 instead of a 100, its really a poor use of your time and emotional energy to go back and take a whole different test over stuff you already know to make a 100. You end up with a kid that is taking three quizzes a day and can't focus on new stuff because they are still fretting about the old stuff.

 

A certain type of weak student, on the other hand, has trouble really pushing themselves if they know they have a fallback if it doesn't go as planned. This is the kid that would bomb the test or homework three or four times in a row because they'd never get around to really trying, because it's always easier to lie to yourself and tell yourself you'll try next time: this time, you'll just kinda guess on every question and hope it works out, just to see if you can get away with it. This is the same kid who would rather get a 70 on a test they didn't study for than a 90 on a test they did study for, because they think the 70 when they didn't try proves that they are inherently smarter/better/talented but that they 90 they got after studying shows they couldn't master the material.

 

I also fear losing the instructional benefit of a test: tests are supposed to be assessments, not teaching tools, but sometimes kids walk away from a test smarter than when they sat down. Sometimes they've never really focused on the material before, and only being under the gun makes them really stretch themselves. Some kids just can't make themselves THINK until they have to.

 

As a teacher, I've handed tests back to kids and told them to go correct them. Other times, I've told a kid that their best best strategy was t push forward. It depends on the kid, the material, and the assessment. As a future homeschooler, I hope to be wise enough to match my son with the approach that works for him.

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Whatever happened to - you got 7 wrong so here's your B-? I don't care of they were simple, or sloppy mistakes - they're wrong. I have my kids go back and correct any wrong answers after the fact - but they get the grade they earned.

 

In college I nearly failed physics. I went to a service academy - so there was NO slack on grades. I worked hard. I went for extra help every day for a year. No crew team... No sports... I did practice problem after practice problem. I got a D. I earned that D and I'm still proud of the hard work and perseverance I put in to get through that class (it was a core class - I made the Dean's List later when I was taking humanities classes, LOL!). I would have been robbed of a pivotal life lesson if my grade had been inflated as a result of "do overs".

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At the schools I have attended and in which I have taught, College Algebra was a remedial class. Students were allowed some grace to improve grades for the sake of remediation.

 

It is pretty typical in Calculus courses for the final exam to be 30 or 40 percent of the final grade; tests make up the remainder. Homework rarely enters the equation in determining the course grade although quizzes or problem sets might.

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I'm sorry it it offended you. I have seen so many things from the high school where my dh has been that I was afraid the same mentality has been spilling over into colleges.

 

It is My Math Lab that she uses, but she attends class 2 days a week with an actual teacher. I don't have as much an issue with the homework as I do the testing. If someone makes a good grade such as a B, why should they be given another chance?

 

 

If the teacher is using the mymathlab tests as his class tests, then my answer to the bold part is that the teacher is lazy. My class was ALL online, hence the need for multiple tries (and we only got two on the test!) But if she's in a classroom, this teacher is using the lab in a lazy way--do your homework on there, let it grade your homework, do your test, let it grade your test ---and I'll come in and record your grade. Teacher is 100% being lazy in this case. That is NOT how mymathlab should be used!

 

But it's not the student's fault if the teacher allows it. mymathlab should be used--for an on campus class--really, not at all. But if the teacher does use it, it should be used for homework only. Have the tests taken in class. For an all online class though, well that's how the software is written. Tests only get 2 tries (no more!) but homework and practices get multiple tries with different questions each time (it's completely random. They do not get the same questions twice)

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At the schools I have attended and in which I have taught, College Algebra was a remedial class. Students were allowed some grace to improve grades for the sake of remediation.

 

It is pretty typical in Calculus courses for the final exam to be 30 or 40 percent of the final grade; tests make up the remainder. Homework rarely enters the equation in determining the course grade although quizzes or problem sets might.

 

 

Homework here makes up about 10% of the grade even in calculus classes. We (department) have found that if it's worth 0, most of the students will not do it and the failure rates will be quite high. Then the department starts getting nasty notes from the university wondering why we have so many failing students. So assuming that we would like to continue to remain employed, we can either slacken our standards on exams (not an option) or require homework as a minor component of the grade.

 

It is unfortunate, but that is how it is at many non-elite universities.

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I'm sorry it it offended you. I have seen so many things from the high school where my dh has been that I was afraid the same mentality has been spilling over into colleges.

 

It is My Math Lab that she uses, but she attends class 2 days a week with an actual teacher. I don't have as much an issue with the homework as I do the testing. If someone makes a good grade such as a B, why should they be given another chance?

 

 

But it's not the student's fault if the teacher allows it. mymathlab should be used--for an on campus class--really, not at all. But if the teacher does use it, it should be used for homework only. Have the tests taken in class. For an all online class though, well that's how the software is written. Tests only get 2 tries (no more!) but homework and practices get multiple tries with different questions each time (it's completely random. They do not get the same questions twice)

 

 

I use MML in my on campus classes. Students have unlimited attempts on homework to get 100% - but only until the due date (generally within one week of us covering the material in class). Some students still don't do the homework. I'm giving the final tonight, so closing out the semester. Some students have HW averages in the 30s. Very discouraging. I also give them quizzes on MML. These are practice tests - a bit tougher (more problems) than the in class tests and with the same time as the in class test. Typically students score within 10 points of their quiz score on the actual tests. I do this to encourage students to put themselves in a testing situation before the actual test. I count the highest quiz score for their grade. Ideally, this helps prevent students from freezing when they're taking the test - they're already used to seeing the questions mixed up rather than just one type at a time as in homework.

 

When I have taught internet courses, I've kept to departmental policy which was to allow 2 attempts at the tests online at the testing center. This allowed for computer glitches as well.

 

We do have a self-paced on campus class where students do get unlimited attempts on each test, but they cannot progress until they reach a mastery score with each homework assignment, quiz, and test. This class has a teacher in the room during class time so students can get help from a teacher if they don't understand something but they're also able to progress at their own speed. Some students have the ability to complete more than one course in a semester.

 

So for multiple test attempts, there may be valid reasons for allowing it.

There are also some teachers who just have silly policies; it could be that as well.

MML does automatically generate problems, but if you redo them often enough, you will often encounter the same problem and same numbers, so it can be gamed in some ways. It's still the best way I've seen to get students to actually DO their work. And as Kiana mentioned above, that's a HUGE issue with math in particular.

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I don't have a problem with kids retaking tests as long as they are truly mastering the material.

 

My Italian teacher mentioned to us that in Italy, if high schoolers fail a class, they can just take it again and try to master the material the second time. I don't see why students should be expected to learn something thoroughly the first time around. Sometimes it takes multiple tries.

 

You'll have to excuse me. I'm becoming an old romantic ideologist in my old age! LOL.

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The Algebra I took at our community college did not allow any extra attempts on the test. In fact, I thought it was extra tough, because as an online course, you couldn't get any partial credit, the answer was either correct or not. So one tiny mistake in a page full of calculations = wrong answer. I remember from high school that's why you showed your work, if you got the concept but maybe made a arithmatic mistake, you could still get partial credit for the answer.

 

I agree with reworking for homework but not for tests. Teaching Textbooks allows this, and I usually go back and check my daughter's grade report, which shows how many problems had 2 attempts. I wish I could turn that feature off for tests.

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I did it in the public school. I had lots of students and parents who just didn't care. So, they'd flunk a test and "move on." We had a no-fail policy, so they knew they'd pass to the next grade anyway. It was really frustrating. So, in my class, I had my own "no-fail" policy. I made it mandatory to retake the test until the student made an A. I deducted points on their recorded grade based on the number of times they had to retake the test to do it. It was possible to receive an A on a test that you'd retaken once. By making this "do-over" mandatory, I was able to assure that the students capable of mastery did in fact learn something. They had to retake the whole test, too, so I could prevent cramming and forgetting. I offered tutoring in my room for 20 minutes after school and then gave them 30 minutes to retake the test. (this was 5th grade, so the tests were never very long).

 

With my own children, we don't move on until I'm satisfied that they've mastered it. If they don't "pass" on the first try, it simply means that they didn't master it within my arbitrary time frame. Usually, I don't "test" them until I'm sure they've gotten the concept.

 

What's the point of school? To prove how quickly you can learn something or to learn it and prove that you can use it? If you look at school that way, it doesn't make it unfair that a student has the opportunity to improve his grade by improving his retention. That way, grades can be a measure of accumulated knowledge instead of cramming and purging.

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I did it in the public school. I had lots of students and parents who just didn't care. So, they'd flunk a test and "move on." We had a no-fail policy, so they knew they'd pass to the next grade anyway. It was really frustrating. So, in my class, I had my own "no-fail" policy. I made it mandatory to retake the test until the student made an A. I deducted points on their recorded grade based on the number of times they had to retake the test to do it. It was possible to receive an A on a test that you'd retaken once. By making this "do-over" mandatory, I was able to assure that the students capable of mastery did in fact learn something. They had to retake the whole test, too, so I could prevent cramming and forgetting. I offered tutoring in my room for 20 minutes after school and then gave them 30 minutes to retake the test. (this was 5th grade, so the tests were never very long).

 

With my own children, we don't move on until I'm satisfied that they've mastered it. If they don't "pass" on the first try, it simply means that they didn't master it within my arbitrary time frame. Usually, I don't "test" them until I'm sure they've gotten the concept.

 

What's the point of school? To prove how quickly you can learn something or to learn it and prove that you can use it? If you look at school that way, it doesn't make it unfair that a student has the opportunity to improve his grade by improving his retention. That way, grades can be a measure of accumulated knowledge instead of cramming and purging.

 

Yes. IMO all formal education should be self-paced and mastery-based. I do not see the benefit of penalizing anyone for needing more time on a skill to master it. Take the time you need do the work you need to do, until you can do it perfectly without mistakes or assistance, demonstrate your mastery, and then move on to the next thing. I do not see the point of moving anyone on without being able to demonstrate enough mastery to earn an A on everything.

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As a college professor, I now see students who expect this. I don't know how many times I hear the question, "When is the retake?" It doesn't matter how many times I have told them that there are no "retake" exams.

 

I do use an online homework system that allows them to rework problems they miss (with different numbers) until they get them right--but only up until the due date for the assignment. For example, if an assignment is due Monday at 9:00pm, they can do the assignment as many times as they want to improve their grade, but their grade at 9:00pm that day is the grade for the rest of the semester. They can still access the homework problems, rework them, practice and learn--it just won't improve their grade.

 

I think there is some educational value in allowing students to redo the homework questions they missed (and it prevents complaints regarding missed points because of data entry errors). But, I do have a concern regarding the "redo until I get the grade I want" mentality. I think it promotes "guessing" until the student gets it correct. Why try hard the first time? I think it promotes sloppy work and an attitude of "I will do it when I want to." I think when we are educating students we have to look beyond whether they are simply learning the concept at hand; we must also look at what type of character, habits, attention to detail, etc. we are encouraging. I teach junior and senior business students, and I tell them their boss isn't going to continue to ask them to "redo" the report until they get it right--they will just fire them.

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I use MML in my on campus classes. Students have unlimited attempts on homework to get 100% - but only until the due date (generally within one week of us covering the material in class). Some students still don't do the homework. I'm giving the final tonight, so closing out the semester. Some students have HW averages in the 30s. Very discouraging. I also give them quizzes on MML. These are practice tests - a bit tougher (more problems) than the in class tests and with the same time as the in class test. Typically students score within 10 points of their quiz score on the actual tests. I do this to encourage students to put themselves in a testing situation before the actual test. I count the highest quiz score for their grade. Ideally, this helps prevent students from freezing when they're taking the test - they're already used to seeing the questions mixed up rather than just one type at a time as in homework.

 

When I have taught internet courses, I've kept to departmental policy which was to allow 2 attempts at the tests online at the testing center. This allowed for computer glitches as well.

 

We do have a self-paced on campus class where students do get unlimited attempts on each test, but they cannot progress until they reach a mastery score with each homework assignment, quiz, and test. This class has a teacher in the room during class time so students can get help from a teacher if they don't understand something but they're also able to progress at their own speed. Some students have the ability to complete more than one course in a semester.

 

So for multiple test attempts, there may be valid reasons for allowing it.

There are also some teachers who just have silly policies; it could be that as well.

MML does automatically generate problems, but if you redo them often enough, you will often encounter the same problem and same numbers, so it can be gamed in some ways. It's still the best way I've seen to get students to actually DO their work. And as Kiana mentioned above, that's a HUGE issue with math in particular.

 

 

Yes, this. This is what I was trying to say. I do think some teachers use it as an easy out because I've had teachers tell us we do not need to purchase the lab portion unless we wanted extra help. Like my latest math class, he had a mathlab registration but did not require us to use it. It was all done in class. Of course, he did not require us to turn homework in for a grade either. Just tests and attendance.

 

 

I hadn't thought of that. We're using Kinetic Books and every test he has to appeal to me because he got the answer right, just not the exact way the program wanted. x=3 vs. 3. He needs to read the question better, but on some I can't tell exactly what they expect. I have to manually keep scoring records because of this. Over the course of the year it's probably made at least a whole grade difference.

 

 

Yeah, I can see where it might be easy to game a system like this, but I can also understand the need for the extra tries. My Public Speaking class was like this. It was all online and our teacher had to go through every test because the test read the word one way only, even though we got it correct, if we did not type it in exactly as the test read it, we got it wrong. So she spent every test fixing it.

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I teach junior and senior business students, and I tell them their boss isn't going to continue to ask them to "redo" the report until they get it right--they will just fire them.

 

Your real world applications are accurate. On things like written reports, I agree that a deadline is important. On concept mastery, especially in more objective classes, I believe the benefit is in learning the skill in school to perform well when accuracy counts on future assignments.

 

Math mistakes in the business world are career enders, which is why we need to allow students the time and teaching to get it correct and master the concept before they are degreed and certified in their field.

 

Subjective assignments, like essays and presentations, allow a period of growth over time longer than the typical degree cycle. When one practices these skills at entry-level jobs and perfects them over the course of their career, it allows for promotions and career growth. Minimal (passing) skills can be achieved in the course of education, while growth can continue in the career; although, the objective mechanics of such writing and presenting are rightly achievable (with repeated allowances for mastery) within the school time frame. By that, I mean an employee who can't capitalize a sentence and make the verbs agree won't get very far. Those mechanics should have been mastered in school. Entry-level employees who need work on succinct, persuasive communications have time to grow with their career.

 

It's like the riddle: What do you call a student who graduated from medical school with a D? A doctor. I may seek out that framed degree on the exam room wall, but I've never asked my doctor if he was an A student. Can we allow our students to stick around in school long enough to repeat to the point of mastery and encourage them to learn for knowledge instead of the grade? We'd end up with better educated students. Could it encourage some to procrastinate? Sure, but there can be reasonable limits set. Give students two weeks after the original assignment to improve their mastery (and grade). If they try and can't, that's a clue that they need further instruction/tutoring. I'd also be thrilled to see the minimum bar raised. Maybe passing is a B or above. Otherwise, retake the course next semester. I'm definitely in favor of reinventing the way we think of grades.

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So much of how a person perceives this practice is based upon how they feel about learning in general, and the value of a grade. Over the course of the past 4 years of homeschooling I have done a full 180 on this, and no longer give grades. We will for high school, as we "have" to as part of our charter program, but I have come to value mastery learning, and the value of the process of learning itself far more than what grade a child gets. After all, if they get a poor score on their work, we are just flat out not moving on until they "get it", so other than grading for informational purposes, I have come to value the grade itself very, very little.

 

Does the world operate that way? Of course not, because we A) Pass them on regardless of poor grades and B) Love bragging rights about grades. Note I am not saying everyone is that way, but it IS part of the culture surrounding education that was one of the big reasons we opted out. Why would I want to recreate that at home?

 

College will be different, I know that, just as high school will necessarily be. But how much emphasis we put on grades at home is our choice. I would love to see schools break completely away from Grades and Scores being the thing we use to measure our kids' progress, and instead see public schools look at scores and then actually use them to go back and work with those areas kids are struggling in rather than use it merely to evaluate a school or a child. To do nothing with what information is gathered by grades and scores seems utterly pointless to me, and I'd much rather have them allow my child to keep working at topics they are not successful at then to just test and move on.

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I am a tutor at a community college and a student at a university.

This varies greatly by class level and individual teacher.

 

For the remedial math students, its more common that homework tries are infinite and that quizzes are given a few tries (ie. you can take it 3x and the best score counts) But not always allowed. When I took remedial Intro. to Algebra, we were given 1 attempt and `1 attempt only.

 

For the upper level students we have no online tests/quizzes. You may have several but a finite number of attempts for a homework problem. My teacher set each problem at 50 attempts, I think, the idea was that we could try as much as we wanted but shouldn't max them out. In other sections of the same course, during the same semester students had 3 attempts at a problem. Alot of the science teachers give you 5 attempts per question. Many teachers NEVER reopen homework.

 

Its just varies way too much.

 

I do love the practice another version and view an example features though, when used appropriately, they can be extremely helpful to check where you are goofing something up.

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At university you were sometimes allowed to retake final exams. If you had pawed all but one of the papers required to be passed for the year you were offered an option to come back at the end of the summer break to resit it. I only know one person who did it and it really ruined her summer. I always felt they should just give a pass grade but actually it looked like any other grade.

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At the schools I have attended and in which I have taught, College Algebra was a remedial class. Students were allowed some grace to improve grades for the sake of remediation.

 

It is pretty typical in Calculus courses for the final exam to be 30 or 40 percent of the final grade; tests make up the remainder. Homework rarely enters the equation in determining the course grade although quizzes or problem sets might.

 

 

The course hasn't been a remedial course because it's covered things all the way into Pre-Calculus topics. It is the only math she will have to take for her English degree.

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Can we allow our students to stick around in school long enough to repeat to the point of mastery and encourage them to learn for knowledge instead of the grade? We'd end up with better educated students. Could it encourage some to procrastinate? Sure, but there can be reasonable limits set. Give students two weeks after the original assignment to improve their mastery (and grade). If they try and can't, that's a clue that they need further instruction/tutoring. I'd also be thrilled to see the minimum bar raised. Maybe passing is a B or above. Otherwise, retake the course next semester. I'm definitely in favor of reinventing the way we think of grades.

 

I teach physics at a university. What you propose is unrealistic - at least if we retain high expectations. It may be politically incorrect to say so, but not all students have the ability to achieve a grade of B or higher in physics (or for that matter, ANY subject) if A stands for "excellent", B for "very good" and C for "average". Average is exactly what it means. Only at Lake Wobegon do all students perform above average.

What you propose is only possible if you lower standards so that the old D is the new B and what was called barely passing is now lauded as mastery.

With grade inflation already rampant, this is not the way to go. If a college class has an average grade between A and B I know that the course is so easy that the best students are not adequately challenged and are short changed - just like strong students are in public school.

 

ETA: I want grades to reflect the DEGREE of mastery. There is a difference between a student who has a basic level of understanding of the material (passing with a solid C) and a student who has an excellent grasp and is able to generalize and apply the concepts to unknown situations (who would receive an A). Those two students do not perform at the same level, and the grade needs to reflect this difference. Otherwise, with basically a Pass/Fail scenario like you propose, there is no distinction. Already many colleges do not differentiate enough, which necessitates more standardized tests since grades become meaningless. On one hand, we bemoan the ever increasing battery of additional tests students need to take in order to advance - OTOH, grade inflation is making a distinction of students on the basis of their grades more and more impossible.

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I teach physics at a university. What you propose is unrealistic - at least if we retain high expectations. It may be politically incorrect to say so, but not all students have the ability to achieve a grade of B or higher in physics (or for that matter, ANY subject) if A stands for "excellent", B for "very good" and C for "average". Average is exactly what it means. Only at Lake Wobegon do all students perform above average.

What you propose is only possible if you lower standards so that the old D is the new B and what was called barely passing is now lauded as mastery.

With grade inflation already rampant, this is not the way to go. If a college class has an average grade between A and B I know that the course is so easy that the best students are not adequately challenged and are short changed - just like strong students are in public school.

 

ETA: I want grades to reflect the DEGREE of mastery. There is a difference between a student who has a basic level of understanding of the material (passing with a solid C) and a student who has an excellent grasp and is able to generalize and apply the concepts to unknown situations (who would receive an A). Those two students do not perform at the same level, and the grade needs to reflect this difference. Otherwise, with basically a Pass/Fail scenario like you propose, there is no distinction. Already many colleges do not differentiate enough, which necessitates more standardized tests since grades become meaningless. On one hand, we bemoan the ever increasing battery of additional tests students need to take in order to advance - OTOH, grade inflation is making a distinction of students on the basis of their grades more and more impossible.

 

I appreciate what you're saying. There definitely must be a complete overhaul of grading theory, what grades mean and their ramifications for my ideas to be possible. I'm speaking purely in an ideal world.

 

Maybe there needs to be some distinction between core classes and degree-field classes. I don't expect that I could do much better than a B in a college physics class, but I also have no use for that class. If it were in my field of study, I'd expect more and would not be satisfied with anything below an A.

 

I suppose I'm suggesting that we require a high percentage of mastery in our fields of specialty and the classes deemed important enough to be "core" to higher education. If college algebra is required of all students because of its practicality, then all students should master a high percentage of the material. If it's not possible for the average student to master more than 75% of the material, then perhaps passing with a C is what is watering down our system. What I'm proposing is that we increase the value of a degree by increasing what we expect from students. I don't want to see the classes become easier to accommodate the average student. I'm suggesting we change the way classes are taught so that students are given maximum opportunity to succeed. This might include the opportunity for retaking tests for mastery, dropping classes that are beyond their grasp and trying again at a later date. If the average C student approaching a math or science class is afforded the opportunity to increase mastery through repeated attempts at a test or the like and they are still unable to master more than 80% of the material, then perhaps they need to drop the class and retry at a later date. It's a similar technique to what I use at home. If we don't master dividing fractions in the first go around, I let it lie for a little while and come back to it in a few weeks to try again. At the college level, if the day never comes that he masters algebra, then I'm suggesting that we not award that student with a degree. It may take longer for an average student to earn a degree, but it would ensure that every degreed adult has mastery of the material deemed important to his field. This way we aren't watering down the system, but raising the bar. I think plenty of average/C students could be very good or excellent students with a restructuring of the system to aim for mastery rather than passing. Then our degrees would really mean something. A degree-holding applicant is then someone who really knows their stuff, whether it came to them easily or they put in the extra effort to get there.

 

When my husband interviews potential employees and reviews current ones, he asks them about their grades in classes. A B is considered a good grade. In the workplace though, if you perform your tasks accurately only 80% of the time, you get fired.

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It may be politically incorrect to say so, but not all students have the ability to achieve a grade of B or higher in physics (or for that matter, ANY subject)

 

 

 

I agree completely. In this world of "you can be anything you want to be," we need to maintain high standards. Frankly, very few people can be "anything" they want to be. Most people have well-defined limitations and should learn to excel in their areas of skill.

 

So my suggestion is, if you can't get an A or B in physics, pursue a different degree, one that doesn't require it. It's not within your reach to become a medical physicist or the like.

 

The world needs all kinds of people, from garbage collectors to lawyers to physicists to chefs. We need to design our degree paths to best prepare them for a career in that field and then teach them in a way to provide the opportunity for them to truly learn and master the material, even if it means a slower pace. Then the value of education will rise.

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I suppose I'm suggesting that we require a high percentage of mastery in our fields of specialty and the classes deemed important enough to be "core" to higher education. If college algebra is required of all students because of its practicality, then all students should master a high percentage of the material. If it's not possible for the average student to master more than 75% of the material, then perhaps passing with a C is what is watering down our system.

 

 

No. Watering down would mean lowering the expected level of material so that the average student can achieve more than a C. because then the exceptional student will not have a chance to be taught according to HIS abilities. the idea that everybody can excel in all material in his field is an illusion because people are not all of the same ability; if you lower the bar so that every student can achieve As in all classes pertaining to his major, you are short changing the top students who could have learned SO much more had the class been geared towards THEIR abilities.

 

What I'm proposing is that we increase the value of a degree by increasing what we expect from students. I don't want to see the classes become easier to accommodate the average student. I'm suggesting we change the way classes are taught so that students are given maximum opportunity to succeed. This might include the opportunity for retaking tests for mastery, dropping classes that are beyond their grasp and trying again at a later date.

 

If the average C student approaching a math or science class is afforded the opportunity to increase mastery through repeated attempts at a test or the like and they are still unable to master more than 80% of the material, then perhaps they need to drop the class and retry at a later date.

 

 

you are contradicting yourself - or you are believing that all students are equally capable if they are just given enough time. I consider this a faulty assumption. It may not be politically correct nowadays, but some people are smarter than others and have a better understanding of abstract material. Either I lower the bar so that the average student can grasp 100%, then the top students are bored - or I keep the standard so that the top student is at least mildly challenged, and then the weak student will, with much effort and hard work, pass the class with a C.

 

At the college level, if the day never comes that he masters algebra, then I'm suggesting that we not award that student with a degree. It may take longer for an average student to earn a degree, but it would ensure that every degreed adult has mastery of the material deemed important to his field.

 

 

I disagree, because different people in the same field need to master different parts of the material to a different extent.

For example: a physics major who wants to work as a condensed matter theorist in an academic setting better have an excellent grasp of advanced calculus and differential equations, whereas a physic major who wants to work growing crystal samples will do fine with some C-level understanding of partial differential equations, but needs A level expertise at crystallography and handling the lab equipment.

To award the degree, average performance in all required courses is needed for a rounded education, but nobody can excel in every aspect; most people will specialize in the direction in which they have a particular aptitude. Of course, we can require so little pdiff eq and so little lab expertise that all graduates achieve an A - but that will rob the person with the special aptitude of the challenge and the chance to hone his skill.

 

This way we aren't watering down the system, but raising the bar. I think plenty of average/C students could be very good or excellent students with a restructuring of the system to aim for mastery rather than passing.

 

 

We have to agree to disagree. I believe that even with redoing tests, for example not every physics student possesses the ability to understand the theory of general relativity. In fact, rather few do, as it requires very hard math and a high degree of abstraction. We can redo tests until they are blue in the face.

 

I do not believe that every violin student can be a gifted concert solo violinist, even if he has all the time in the world to hone his skills, gets to retake his exams etc. Most professional violinists will play in small town orchestras or give violin lessons. Should they not be given a degree? Or should excellence not be expected from the exceptionally gifted soloist? We all accept differing abilities in music - why can't we accept that abilities differ in any given field?

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I think there is a big difference in the role of the teacher, mastery, and grading for children and for college students. For example, a third grader will probably not know whether or not they understand fractions. A test score may show that they do not and that review is necessary before they can go on in math. The child may not be ready for fractions yet and this instruction may need to be delayed.

 

Once a student is in college, the student should be able to "self-assess" before an examination. They should know, for example, by attempting to work homework problems, whether they have a good grasp of the material or not. Usually students who do poorly on my exams have either (1) not put in the time necessary to learn the material or (2) do not have the appropriate background knowledge to complete my coursework successfully. Occassionally, a student does poorly because they are ill, just had a death in the family, etc.

 

I am not sure that I have ever had an instance where I have seen a college student who needs to wait a few weeks to come back to a topic and then work on mastery. Yes, I have had some who needed to come back a few semesters after they have matured and are ready to put the necessary work into the course. But, that is a different issue.

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Once a student is in college, the student should be able to "self-assess" before an examination. They should know, for example, by attempting to work homework problems, whether they have a good grasp of the material or not. Usually students who do poorly on my exams have either (1) not put in the time necessary to learn the material or (2) do not have the appropriate background knowledge to complete my coursework successfully. Occassionally, a student does poorly because they are ill, just had a death in the family, etc.

 

I completely agree. in most cases I see, the reason is not enough time on task; many students do not realize that a four hour class means spending 8 hours of work outside of class.

For the ones who had extenuating circumstances, I have a policy of dropping the lowest exam score or, in other words, using the comprehensive Final exam as a general makeup opportunity to replace a low test score. (Due to the size of our courses, giving makeups on an individual basis is impossible)

 

I am not sure that I have ever had an instance where I have seen a college student who needs to wait a few weeks to come back to a topic and then work on mastery. Yes, I have had some who needed to come back a few semesters after they have matured and are ready to put the necessary work into the course. But, that is a different issue.

 

Again, agree. A student who is not prepared to take my monthly exam has not done the assigned reading, not participated in class, not completed the homework over the course of four weeks, typically because he chose not to spend the time to do so. He has also not availed himself of the many hours of free learning assistance I and my colleagues offer every week (20+ hours of walk in tutoring or learning center each week).

He may benefit form a break of a few semesters and return to campus with an appropriate work ethic.

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OTOH, grade inflation is making a distinction of students on the basis of their grades more and more impossible.

 

 

Yes.

 

Grades should help potential employers distinguish between the great students and the average students.

 

I wonder if we'll see more employers requiring some sort of independent exam before they hire a graduate.

 

My husband has been an engineer for over 30 years. He says that the things he learned as an undergraduate are now considered graduate material due to the dumbing down of engineering studies. Perhaps that is why so many American companies prefer to hire foreign nationals to fill their technical spots.

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