TITLE: A Grading Experiment? AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: July 10, 2006 5:33 PM DESC: ----- BODY: While cleaning up one of my current stuff folders (now only 103 files in 1.7 Mb, positively tiny!), I ran across this quote from Ernie at 3D Pancakes:
That's one of the reasons for my "I don't know" policy -- an answer of "I don't know" on any homework or exam question is worth 25% partial credit. A blank response doesn't count; to get the partial credit, you must explicitly acknowledge your ignorance. (The other reason, of course, is that it cuts way back on random nonsense maybe-I'll-get-pity-credit-for-stumbling-on-the-right-keywords answers, which makes grading much easier.)
Excellent idea... Anyone who has ever graded exams with open-ended questions knows just what Ernie is talking about. Some students will write anything down to bluff their way to a few points, and the time the grader spends seeing through the smoke (or not!) is much better spent on almost anything else. The more open-ended the problem or question, the more likely that the student's tangential dump will look just enough like a real answer that it requires extra attention. Before I would use this strategy, I think I would add a phrase to the required answer: "... but I will by Friday." This transforms the answer from just an admission into a promise to learn. This turns what can be a dispiriting experience -- a complete blank on an exam question -- into a chance to get better. Of course, with that phrase, I would reserve the right to ask the student for the answer later, by e-mail. This adds an element of accountability to the equation and might encourage students to take their admission more seriously. (With the right set of students, especially in a junior/senior course, I might want the right to ask for the answer in class!) Hmmm... I'm guessing that the students in my fall course would probably prefer that I not browse my stuff folders, if this is what happens when I do. -----