Grading Issues are Solved by Creating Rubrics

My understanding of today’s high school students is that they care more about the letter grade than they do about truly understanding the course. Parental expectations and an attitude of “I’m the best and I deserve an A+ “ has become an increasing problem that has migrated from high school to higher education.

Over my eight-year college teaching career I noticed the increased number of students who attempt to bargain with me for “just one more point” on an assignment. The pressure to inflate grades began to creep into the profession. For some students, receiving a low mark was a shock because high school students in Ontario rarely fail a grade or subject. The reality is that not all students are suitable for college or university. They are not prepared for the amount of work, the real possibility of failure, and the tight deadlines.

One of my former students actually had the audacity to rather loudly say to me that he deserved to pass because he’d paid his tuition. I pointed out that he had attended only three classes and handed in two of the six assignments … and one was a month late so he received a zero. Continue reading

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10 Tips to Creating Effective Multiple Choice Tests

Creating fair and easy to understand multiple choice tests is an often overlooked art.

I remember my first year psych professor wrote the most interesting and well written multiple choice questions I’d ever seen. He knew how to write questions that tested learners’ recall, ability to analyze, and application of knowledge. He tested both the lower and middle levels of the cognitive domain in a fun and challenging tests.

He often had questions that contained a situation and then listed possible solutions to the problem. This meant that learners had to recognize (recall) the terms and also be able to apply their knowledge of the subject.

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Returning Student’s Assignment is a Learning Opportunity

Students can put hours, days or weeks into preparing and writing assignments. Waiting for the teacher to mark the assignment and anticipating the grade is a source of stress for students. Returning the assignment can also be a learning point for both the students and the instructor.

I create a simple one-page mark sheet for almost all assignments. The exception is research papers, which require meticulous comments and suggestions in addition to marking sheets.

All mark sheets are based on the assignment specifications, which are outlined on the assignment sheet and, at a higher level, in the course syllabus. The mark sheets are easy to fill out and also easy for the students to quickly read.

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The Take-Home, Open-Book Test

In one of my college prep courses I found that students were very stress about taking college-type tests. While I had to prepare the students for college level learning, I certainly didn’t wan them to drop out or fail because of their fear of tests.

One colleague suggested giving the students a take-home test, but I suspected that students would give into the temptation of using the Internet to answer the questions. Occasionally I had used open-book tests, so as an experiment I created a take-home, open book test.

A week before the test, I have the student a choice of three topics they could write an essay about. I also gave them a fill-in-the blanks form to help them organize their information for each paragraph of essay.

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