Monday, December 18, 2006

Grading lessons learned

Okay, so there have been lots of lessons learned on the grading front this term. As you regular readers know, it has been a great teaching term. But, boy, have there been some mistakes in terms of evaluation strategies and my own lenience.

I gave take-home examsn for the first time. In two classes - in one, it was the final exam, and in the other, it is the mid-year exam. I knew it would be a delicate task designing these. And then it turned out that I was madly rushing and preparing for an interview when I should have been carefully doing that. The result? One that is way too easy - it is essentially what I would have given as a closed-book, regular examination. And one that is too hard - grad school level. Oy. I haven't graded the difficult one yet, but I've done the easy one, and the average is too high. Right now I'm thinking, never again with the take-home exams!.

The other thing was that I didn't explicitly put in the syllabi that I wouldn't accept take-home exams after the due date of 3pm on Thursday, December 14. It didn't even occur to me that students would think it was acceptable to hand in an exam late! And yet, oh yes, there are at least a couple who think that's perfectly acceptable, and, I suppose, assume that I'm just going to dock the standard 5% per day that I indicate in my late submission policy. Damn them!! Without having spelled out that exams won't be accepted late, I think I have to accept them. Perhaps with double the penalty.

This gets me to the question of my lenience. At the top of my list of goals for a new academic year, I put "stop being a pushover". No such luck, I'm afraid. I watched myself give in until now I feel completely taken advantage of. The thing is, I don't mind giving an extension if a student asks for it well in advance of the deadline. That has never been a problem before - last year, I had 2 1/2 times the number of students I do now, and didn't feel that was abused. But this time, oh lord! I can't even get over the ways people in my Theory class have been pushing me. One of them had an essay due on the 29th of November. She asked me if she could have a 2-day extension because of grad school application deadlines, and I said sure. Have I seen the essay yet? NO. So on the weekend, I emailed her asking about it, and she said "oh yeah, my Berkeley application is taking longer than I thought. I'm going to be able to get to the stuff from [our class] soon." This means she hasn't submitted the exam either! No apologies, just a "Thank you!" at the end of the email. The audacity!! I didn't give you a three-week extension, you twit! I gave you two days, and now have had to spend my time chasing you down!! Frankly, how dare you?

I am going to have to start the new year with a stern speech about how I feel my flexibility was completely taken advantage of, and there will be no such flexibility this time around.

Sigh. I don't like this role.

6 comments:

medieval woman said...

Grrrr! Tell you what, I'll buy you some wine tonight in pushover commiseration!! Some students, if you give them an inch they'll take a mile... :)

dbm/gaa said...

I feel your pain! Not only is my average too high on the final projects for one class I have students really pushing my buttons on late papers and exam stuff. I even have someone who plagiarized telling me that his re-write might be late...uh no, for this I put my foot down. You are doing a re-write because I'm a really, really nice person, don't try your luck at an extension! Especially since you had an exrension on the paper you plagiarized!

Hilaire said...

Oh my god, grumpy! I can't believe that guy's audacity - his rewrite might be late!! You've got to be kidding me, dude!

Texter said...

what's your sign, h? :-)

Texter said...

oh, i'll go out on a limb and guess - cancer?

Hilaire said...

Capricorn...