December 04, 2006

Measuring. Don't know what, but I'm measuring

I'm sick with a cold, so I'm not in the best of moods, but I'm coming up, yet again, against a frequent frustration. Normally (when I'm not sick), I can ride over this kind of speed bump and barely notice it, but in my heightened awareness produced by the cold, I cannot let it pass. I've got to COMPLAIN!

In my previous entry, I quoted two students' writing. Both are in the same class, and both were written in response to the same two 20-minute segments of video. They were part of in-class work and I had all students hand them in.

Why did I have them hand them in? Because I've noticed that a few students sleep through most (or part) of the class, and I've felt that's unacceptable so I require them to hand in all work done, so that they will feel there is some consequence.

It's a sad statement, but how much would they do if I didn't require it to be handed in? And it really ticks me off that I have to play this silly little policeman game.

Back to the two samples of writing: what should I do with them? Give the same grade to both? If not, how do I scale them? Do I count the number of sentences (or words?!?) and make that the score? Or do I just check if they've done it or not, so that someone who has written one sentence would get the same "score" as someone who wrote 5 pages of A4? All I really want to do with this is check whether they've done it or not.

I feel they get some benefit from trying to express themselves in English. How much they do is up to them, I'm not prepared to go to whatever lengths might be required to force them to produce a certain amount (I did actually specify a minimum of 5 sentences, but apparently that wasn't clear to the majority).

A further irk is the vocabulary quizzes I give weekly. I do this in the first 10 minutes of class. They mark each others' and write the number of correct answers. It all sounds foolproof, right? But I've noticed some hand in papers which are completely, suspiciously, correct and which have not been marked by anyone else. I suspect such cases are students who came in slightly late (say a few minutes after the test was over). I don't collect the quiz papers straight away, because there is always some classwork writing to be done, and I would prefer everything they do to be on ONE sheet of paper, not 2 (or more).

So, another convolution: to avoid the "problem" of students handing in fake-perfect quizzes, I should collect all the papers right after the quiz? Will that fix the problem?

Obviously, the way to "fix" it, is to collect and mark all the papers myself. And that's what I'm going to do. Honest. It is.

Sheesh! This is driving me nuts! I hate this keeping track of all the bloody work they've done, just for the sake of keeping track of all the bloody work they've done, so that I can justify a numerical score at the end of the term that will give some measure of the quantity (and less hopefully, the quality) they have done.

1 comment:

JH said...

Hello,
I do something similar with students' quizes. I recently told the students that I would like to set a class goal of learning 5 new words a week. The students grade their own weekly quizes and pass them into me but I do not record the grades. Sometimes, I will write comments on some of their quizes but I will not record their grades. The comments are either encouragement to students who bombed or praising students who did well. Why don't I record grades? Because I know that no matter what I do half of the 40 students will not study for the quiz every week. Why? I don't know, they just have a lot of other stuff going on in their lives and they have decided that class work is not a priority.
To be honest, I think that students have sat through a lot of class where the teacher just did not give a shit (in junior and senior high school of course and not at my wonderful institution). So, it is best not to take your classes seriously or you will be very disappointed.
At the ending of the semester, I will probably ask the students to rate how often they accomplished the 5 word a week goal (Like on a 1 through 5 scale). Those that accomplished the goal most of the time, well great! Those that didn't, oh well, that's too bad but remember that if you want to speak English some day (a lot of students will) then remember that it can be good to set vocabulary learning goals and that a large vocabulary is indispensible for mastering a language. Good luck in the future.
About the writing. Why do you have to evaluate it or give the students a grade? Oh, I see why. Because if not they will do nothing. Hmm... That's right. So how about letting them do nothing? It's their decision and their loss.
Note: If the do nothing students were being disruptive my comment would probably be different.