My budding love of teaching, stemming from my larger love of math and learning

Friday, October 29, 2010

New Way of Grading?

Ok, I think I am going to try something new with grading. Not sure that I should be doing this at the end of the quarter, but I don't see what the difference is really.

Here's the idea: Students earn their grades, right? So why have I been taking points "off" on test/quizzes? Why haven't I been giving students the points that they earned on each problem. In the past I have be subtracting 1, 2, 3, etc. points when they make a mistake, but this time around I am going to give them 5, 4, 3, etc points that they earned with the work they have done. Isn't this essentially the same thing?

I have been reading a few blogs lately that focus on Standard Based Grading (SBG) (Miss Calculate, Pt of Inflection, f(t), amongst a few others), and it is not what happens in my school, but I really believe that it is the way to go, and I am hoping that I will be in this position next year so this summer I could work on implementing SBG in a way into my classroom (right now I am just trying to get the content out to the students in a cohesive, understandable way).

Ok, so back to my new way of grading. I am going to try this:
  • 0. Has not demonstrated any skill or understanding (i.e wrote nothing down)
  • 1. Hasn't completed much work on the problem (tried to start the problem, but really there is no conceptual understanding of the problem)
  • 2. Has completed a little more work on the problem but, still lacking the conceptual understanding of the problem, and is making mechanical errors (i.e. computation errors)
  • 3. More understanding of the concept, but using wrong thing to solve the problem (i.e, used Alt. Int. angles when they should have used Corres. angles, or said that corresponding angles are supplementary when they are really congruent).
  • 4. Has demonstrated mastery of the skill, but is making mechanical errors ( i.e. Set up problem correctly but did 3y = 108, y =39, or forgetting to carry a negative through.
  • 5. THe problem is done correctly, correct set up, correct explanation, no mechanical errors, all formulas shown correctly.
Students can earn half points. An example of this would be the student did the problem correctly but did not write any formulas down (I am HUGE on writing the formula every new problem you do).

I am sure I will get some fights from the students on this because of not really understanding (the same students that complain a quiz is worth 50pts, saying that is like a quiz, but quizzes are worth 20% of their grade and tests are worth 40%, also the same students that would complain if I put $1M in front of them). But I am going on the fact that students EARN grades, and I shouldn't be taking points away from them.

I ask you, readers (if there are any out there): Is it ok to change to this way? I really think I am not doing anything differently, just adding points instead of subtracting. Opinions?


  1. This is a really interesting idea, ER. I have tried to do something similar to this when I started giving my undergraduate students credit for coming to class, instead of deducting points for missed classes. However, I quickly gave up on giving any credit for attendance since some people can do well without attending lecture and because other students started asking for points for other ridiculous things ( I.e., asking questions, turning assignments in on time,etc). I also share your frustration with teachers passing students that don't demonstrate core principles needed for your class. I get this all the time. Students come into microbiology without knowing DNA replication or aerobic respiration. I use my first unit as review of core basic bio principles and very brief intro into what we will cover in the remaining three units. It works, but students typically struggle with that exam. Keep up the great work! I enjoy reading your blog! ;)

  2. Hey girl. I love and miss you - but more importantly I have a comment. :-) I think that whatever method you can use to help students understand their grade/performance is helpful for them. It does train them to start thinking about earning points vs. losing them, which has positive connotation in and of itself. Also, any guideline you can give them that can help them think and reflect on their own work will inform their process (we hope). Are you going to go over these guidelines with them? I'm assuming yes. So it can help them in the future as well. I use a rubric like this with my English students - I haven't moved into the "earning points" direction, however I do give them a guideline about specific areas in which they were insufficient, i.e. lost points. Give us an update on how things are going. Anytime you want to chat about teaching - let me know. Or we can chat when I see you. :-)