14 thoughts on “Monday Video Clip – This Really, Really, REALLY Happens!

  1. Here’s my question to my fellow Hlounger’s…do you use a weighted average (%s) or points? I wonder if folks who use points get less questions from students since the calculation is significantly more straightforward. Thanks. Perhaps this question (and a cost/benefit analysis of the two schemes) will be a future Tuesday Teaching Talk topic.

    • I do use points. So students want to know if they can do assignments from September to make up those points. They can’t but they still ask the question!

    • I’m not sure if this is a disciplinary issue or a pedagogical strategy, but my question is never “weighted total” vs. “points,” but rather “points” vs. “letter grades.” I get far MORE questions with points. If they receive a “B” on an essay, I think a student who know they gave less than their best will often accept that they don’t deserve a higher grade. But when they get 85 out of 100 on a paper, and their final grade is only a point away from the next highest grade, they’ll often start asking why they didn’t get an 86 on their essay, as if a single point is a meaningful difference in a philosophical argument…

      • I don’t sympathize with those of you who grade essays. With mathematics, there is a level of right or wrong, even in written answers. Still, I have had a few students attempt to gain back points on some problems. I am amenable to this as long as they don’t expect me to grade based upon their intent but rather on what they wrote. Rubrics (albeit informal often) and consistency across the exam (made easier by grading question by question) help make the task more fair. There is always a subjective variable when it comes to grading. Students are attempting to convince us that they know what they’re talking about. We are interpreting what they are writing and evaluating the writing based upon our perception of the strength and correctness of their arguments. It’s always possible to lose something in translation.

  2. I have been pondering the post since it went up and have watched and listened to the video clip in its entirety. I am sympathetic to the faculty member who experienced this exchange of words. I now have one mlti-question and one comments to make. I am not trying to disagree with the author, I am simply pursuing answers to questions that relate to education.

    1. So what came out of the exchange? How did this faculty member bring resolution to this problem?
    2. It’s ok to identify these experiences, but I would like to know what percentage of our students fall into this category. To state that “This Really, Really, REALLY Happens!” may be true but there are other events that also really, really happen that are on the other end of the extreme. For example, I know students that complete all the assignments, are well-prepared all semester, and are thankful for the experience at the end of the semester. If we are going to call-out the unprepared student, I believe it is only fair and just to call-out the prepared student.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had students like the one identified in this post, but I don’t think it is right to focus on one incident and use it as a starting point for all students; not that this author was attempting to do this. I can understand blowing off some steam. Really, I can.
    Thus, an answer to question 1 would go a long way towards completing this post and allowing us to move forward as educators.
    Here’s a third question.
    3. What would the instructor do differently now?
    I like to learn from my mistakes but also from those of my colleagues who work just as hard as me, perhaps even harder.

    Thanks for reading.

  3. Wow, sounds like a truly interesting topic for professional development discussion. CAST anyone?

    I do feel that faculty (including myself) gets sometimes too involved into “student – bashing” conversations which bring about an unnecessary amount of negativity. On the other hand, I do have to admit that “This Really, Really, REALLY Happens!” (with a varied degree of severity) in my classes. In fact, I would welcome students debating my grading or phrasing of a question and trying to convince me that they understand the material – that almost never happens. I hear a bit of: “I need a B to get into…,” when it is the end of the semester and a student barely has a C. I agree with Realist that it probably does not happen a lot. It is the bad taste that we get from a few colors our overall perception.

    How I deal with that? I am planning a big pep speech in the beginning of the Spring semester (in the past, a couple of students indicated that it worked for them)… Since I am teaching predominantly new students, I feel, breaking bad high school habits is a big issue.

    • I hear you Bio-yev!
      I try to do the same at the start of my semesters. The earlier you can plan for those week 8 or week 16 conversations, the better.

  4. Sorry for the sermon, but I have had to explain my process twice this week already so I am writing it down once and for all in public………

    I am challenged with mathematical calculations beyond the basics. Many of my students are confused by the concept of weighting. Yes, I use points. It eliminates questions. It gives students control over their destiny because it is straightforward. My responsibility is NOT to teach math, thankfully for our students. My responsibility is to make them responsible, autonomous, lifelong learners who are empowered.

    Making them aware of how they earn their own grades is essential. They earn that A point by point. By not going into work they will not earn any pay for the day. In the same way by not doing x assignment, they have actively chosen not to earn any points for that assignment. It is the student’s choice. Do students sometimes choose not to complete assignments? Yes. The consequences for this with points are “clear as water”.

    I have 5 “buckets” for these points; exams (100), quizzes (100), portfolios (100), Journal/Blogs (50), Compositions (150).
    Within these parameters the assignments are my choice. For example if I choose to do only 5 quizzes they are 20 pointsx5=100. If I wish 10 quizzes then they are 10 points each. I may choose also to have some worth 10 and others worth 15 or 20 points. My only limit is not to go above my preset figure of 100 points because that is what the quiz bucket holds.

    The best teacher I have ever had in High School used this system. “Here are the assignments and here are their point values. You may choose whatever assignments you wish to do, but whatever you choose to do and how well you do it determines your grade. You have control over everything you do and you control your grade.” He also incorporated extra credit as part of that choice, which gave room to learn from mistakes. I was the only sophomore in a class of seniors. This system made sense to me and I was able to grow from that opportunity and awareness of how I could shape my own future.

    This prepared me for the experimental program where students designed the curriculum and developed their own learning contracts. This was the beginning of an overall realization that learning is an autonomous self directed process. Not all students are intrinsically motivated. Empowering students through clear expectations and grading helps to transition externally motivated students into a world of lifelong learning and high personal expectations.

    • I agree with the overall concept of your system. Yes, it is important to empower the students. If they aren’t going to learn for themselves, then what’s the point of going to school?
      If we, the faculty, are clear from day 1, then there is less of an issue on the last day of class.
      Thanks for your reply.

      Just to be clear about my earlier post, I’d like to know what other faculty members do when they have made all of the requirements clear to the student and the student still wants to have this sort of what-can-I-do-now-on-the-last-day-of-class discussion?
      I understand the level of frustration, but how did this conversation end? Did the student realize it was in his/her control from the beginning? I’m curious from a faculty development perspective. How do we lessen this problem in the future?
      Thiskindofdiscussioniseducationsexy 🙂

      • Mr. Realist,

        They get it and they don’t argue. Now what they argue for is proving that my quiz included a faulty statement or misleading question or that my math was incorrect on addition of points. I think this is called critical thinking.

        They have the rubrics and criteria for all assignments. We discuss them and they recognize the relationship of the assignments to points and points to grades.

        Just to be clear about my earlier post……..these discussions about grades on the last day are less likely to occur if the expectations are clear and students understand the role they play in their own learning and contribute to the measures, which is what many professors are doing when students contribute to creating rubrics or writing quizzes.

        The ultimate objective is to eliminate concern over grades altogether and focus on the true goals of the course which is to learn the content and skills….My hippie/summer hill school (A.S. Neil) question is how do we emphasize the power of learning and take the question of grades off the table altogether. How do we create an environment that fosters intrinsic motivation to learn for the sake of learning and eliminate the emphasis on the external motivator of teacher/grades?

        • I continue to agree with your statements Hellokitty. Keep them coming (Miss Hellokitty?)

  5. Hellokitty, that’s exactly what I am pondering “how do we emphasize the power of learning and take the question of grades off the table altogether. How do we create an environment that fosters intrinsic motivation to learn for the sake of learning and eliminate the emphasis on the external motivator of teacher/grades”!!!
    My university professors (back in the days) would look at me funny if I were to bring up the issue of points – first and foremost students were expected to express the desire to learn and understand…

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