When graded papers get a quick glance before being shoved into a backpack or deposited into the trash can on the way out of class, it’s often hard for teachers to summon the motivation to write lots of comments on papers. That’s why I was pleased to find evidence in two studies that students do value written comments on their work.
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
assessing student learning
Are our students learning? Are they developing? Are we having an impact? These questions are only a small sample of those that faculty ask before, during, and after each course that they teach. Faculty often attempt to answer such questions using the evidence they have—student remarks during class and office hours, student performance on examinations or homework assignments, student comments solicited via teaching evaluations, and their own classroom observations. While these forms of evidence can be useful, such informal assessments also can be misleading, particularly because they are generally not systematic or fully representative.
Using multiple test trials was something I had never considered until found myself in a newly assigned course with an old syllabus. The previous course, which consisted of 310 total points, included 140 (45 percent) testing-based points. In addition to a 100-point final exam, there were four 10-point quizzes. I was intrigued by the quiz design format that allowed students to take the quiz up to three times over the course of a week, with the average score added to the grade book.
I started using an online grade book as a convenience for myself. Here, finally, was a grade book that couldn’t get lost or stolen, and it would be automatically backed up by the IT department every night. The accumulated scores could also be downloaded directly into a spreadsheet for calculation of grades, a shortcut that reduced the possibility of errors.
It’s a new year, but the same old challenges exist. Given today’s financial challenges, colleges and universities are all working harder than ever to be careful stewards of limited resources and to demonstrate their effectiveness to stakeholders, constituents, and the public.