Having students revise their work
Lisa M Lane

Hi all! Hasn’t been any action this Spring on the Reflections blog – does that mean we’re all too busy reflecting?

I’m enjoying something I’m doing this semester, allowing students to revise their work. I confess I was afraid to do this before! My students post a primary source every week online, and do three writing assignments. With 40 students per section, I was worried that I’d spend all my time re-grading the revisions.

But I talked to my colleague Jim Sullivan, who does many revisions for his English classes. He has clearly worked revisions in as part of his pedagogy. So I made a time limit on mine – one revision by the following Sunday gets a “free re-grade”. Then I spend some time on Mondays doing a quick regrading. As predicted, not that many students take advantage – in fact, I wish more would. It really does seem to help divide out those who care about their work but are having a problem I can help with, and those who don’t care as much.

Just had a student email me to thank me for the opportunity!

Grades: the low-down on the drop-downs
Lisa M Lane

In addition to submitting a grade for each student, and a last date of attendance of they failed, we are now asked to assess the level of learning outcomes for each student for two elements: critical thinking and global awareness.

Our grade sheet is starting to look like a data entry form.

I have heard faculty complain that this is ridiculous and impossible – it would take far too much time to reassess each student’s class performance in outcome areas (last year it was just one) as well as their final grade.

I don’t think so.

I remember many, many years ago, we had a full faculty meeting about developing and tracking our first Student Learning Outcomes. It was the third or fourth iteration of this idea, and we were all sick of it – sick of hearing about this stuff that had clearly come in from the outside, through administrative fiat.  And one of my favorite colleagues stood up and said, “Don’t we already have this? It’s called GRADES.”

I’ve never forgotten that. The grade I give means something. I spend a lot of time determining what percentage of the final grade counts for each assignment and skill. So does my grade now mean nothing when set up against outcomes? Do I really have to reassess each student for their demonstration of critical thinking and global awareness?

No, because these are built into the Course of Study, the class design, and my pedagogy. When I give that final grade, it says something already about the student’s achievement in critical thinking and global awareness.

The drop-downs have levels of achievement on these:surf

My default for a real passing grade (A, B or C) is “Practitioner – Met”. If they hadn’t met my standard for critical thinking and global awareness, they wouldn’t have passed the course.

My default for a D or F is “Apprentice- Not Met” if the student finished the class. If they stopped attending, it’s “Novice-Not Met”.

If I recall their work as being excellent, Critical Thinking jumps to “Expert – Exceeded”. Few get this designation – I am the expert, and few excel in either critical thinking or global awareness. But if they did, I remember it – I don’t have to look anything up.

Similarly, I recall other details leading to exceptions: the brilliant expert student who got a D for not turning stuff in, the B student who didn’t know where China was, etc. Again, no need to look those up.

So even though it seems burdensome, the process goes pretty quickly. Because I trust my grades.

Late work
Lisa M Lane

Well, it’s that time of the semester when students hit the drop deadline and I worry about the ones who look like they’re not going to pass.

We’re so focused on “student success”, but I’m worried about these students as individuals. In particular, I worry about the students who didn’t do their work during the rest of the semester, and now either drop, or try to make up everything.

I consider possible responses. For those remaining, I could allow them to make up everything, individually and on the sly. “On the sly” is needed because surely letting everyone do that means the deadlines didn’t mean anything?

What do those deadlines mean? For me they’re a matter of workload, but for students they’re character issues: planning ahead, persistence, consistency of effort.

Continue reading

In-class cram session is worth the time
Lisa M Lane

I use a textbook for my San Elijo class, and the weekly quizzes are from the textbook. The purpose of the readings is to give them the context of the era we’ll be studying that week. I want them to read before coming to class. I’ve created a “study guide” that is really just a list of all possible questions.

Previously, I gave the quiz first thing on Monday, trying to guarantee they’d have their “head in the game” so I could lecture.

This didn’t work. We grade the quizzes together right away, so by the break they know what they got. It seemed to cause Topic Fatigue – they were done with that chapter, so didn’t pay much attention to my lecture, and weren’t all that interested. And the scores! Well, I would have to harangue them about studying for the quizzes. Is this what I’m teaching college for? Continue reading

Lisa M Lane

A product of the Reflection on Practice Through Blogging workshop at MiraCosta College in Fall 2014, this blog features the writing of MCC’s own faculty as we talk about teaching. It’s kind of like an online version of a “hallway discussion”, and all faculty are invited to comment and participate.

Faculty may choose to write directly to this blog or post to their own blog and have their posts feed into this site. Please contact Lisa M Lane at llane@miracosta.edu if you would like to join our community.