Tuesday Teaching Question

So we’re in Week 9, and mid-term grades are due next Monday. I’ve had a few students ask, “How am I doing so far?” this week, and I tell them. I announce to the class when their mid-term grades are turned in and that they can find them on my.ccc.edu by the end of the week that they’re turned in.

Last semester I even (finally) figured out how to post them on Blackboard in the gradebook.

Every year I think about doing more, though. I’d like to hand each student a card with their attendance, their other numbers and some sort of affective feedback (smiley face, frowny face, etc.), but it’s usually about all I can do to get the grading done. I’d really like to have some sort of giant data set (something that says the average attendance for students getting an A at the mid-term was XX% & students getting an A were a jillion times more likely to visit during office hours, etc.), but that isn’t going to happen until I get a lot more organized.

In the spirit of brainstorming and goal setting, though, I’m wondering what y’all do with your mid-term grades. How do students get them? What other information do you give? What do you do and why? And what would you do if time (and load) were not an issue?

One thought on “Tuesday Teaching Question

  1. Good question!

    I feel like I have changed things over the years and the changes seem to have reduced dramatically the number of students contesting their grade or even complaining about the grades. Students get bummed out about the grade, but they usually see why it is what it is.

    I use the Blackboard gradebook and set up all of the assignments that will be used to tally the midterm grade from the beginning of the semester. As I grade work, I put the score there so they can always see their total as compared to the total possible points and they know what work I am using to tally the midterm. After midterm, I add the rest of the assignments to the gradebook. I show them how to calculate a letter grade at the beginning of the class.

    A couple of weeks before the midterm grades I send out e-mails to students who are in danger of failing at the midterm. It is usually a brief e-mail to say that I haven’t seen them in class and I haven’t seen their work – do they still intend to continue? If so, let me know what your plan is for getting back on track.

    The class session before midterm grades are due, I have meetings with students either in the back of the classroom or in the hallway (while the class works on a group project) to show them their scores and talk about where they are, at the midterm point and where they are headed. The students who attend class really seem to appreciate this step.

    As I write all of this, it seems like I’m constantly hounding students and talking about grades all of the time – I’m not. At the beginning of the class I always tell my students that I am not at all interested in their grades – I am interested in their learning. I say, “if you are interested in particular grades, here is the information about the grades, the rubrics, the gradebook, etc. and here is my contact information”. Then, I do what I say I’ll do – I use the rubrics, post their scores, announce when I’m done grading things, and remain open to office hours meetings.

    I use rubrics for all major assignments and the rubrics are attached to the syllabus and to each assignment. Throughout the semester, I provide feedback on each rubric which includes what was strong about the work and what would make it even stronger. I’ve learned that the more explicit I am about what I am looking for and how I assess their learning, the more they begin to understand that the process is about the WORK and not about them personally. This seems to be effective in terms of students understanding the grading process a bit better.

    If time and load were not an issue, I would like to spend more time tutoring students. I think I do a pretty good job of providing feedback but if i had more time I would be more intentional and targeted with my feedback so I could follow-up with students more carefully on what I’ve asked them to do.

    The tough one for me is when students come to every class, read, do their work, come to office hours…and they still don’t get a passing grade. They want to know why I am not factoring in how hard they are working.

    Any thoughts?

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