Friday, September 16, 2011

And So It Begins Again....

It's been a long 5 months or so since the last update.  This time around, there's Educational Psychology and Instructional Methods (lesson plans and basically how to teach).
Right now, I'm working on my first lesson plan (Quadratic equations for Algebra 2) and a paper about homework for psychology.  Already, there's some interesting things to read in articles that I've come across.
(Please keep in mind that I'm planning on being in a high school, so my posts will be aimed at that. They may be exceptions, but those will be explicitly stated.)

The recommended grading from one group of researches is:
50% - exams
30% - classwork
10% - homework
10% - assigned papers

Yet another group claims:
60% - tests/quizzes
15% - class participation
15% - written/oral projects
10% - notebook/homework

Neither of these state what grade levels they are aimed at; the article mentions elementary and secondary teachers.  It does say that test scores are a better indication of progress than homework or papers, which (as a student) I have to agree with.  While there are always the issue of people who cannot take tests well, homework or papers have more time to be fixed up and could be worked on in a group.
It also talks about how tests should not be weighted the same. Just because a midterm and a final make up 60%, it doesn't mean they are both 30%.  It mentions using standard deviation, but I would think a more traditional 'which should be worth more' approach would be just as valid.  If the final is cumulative, it should be worth more.  If not cumulative, then it's possible to be worth the same, in my opinion.

Despite me being a math major, it doesn't mean I like relative grades, or grading on a curve.  Most curves are designed to be symmetrical, with the highest number of grades being C's, and a smaller (but equal) amount of B's and D's and an even smaller (but still equal) number of A's and F's.  To me, that is not only a bad way to grade students (especially if they are in the C+ range or so in terms of a traditional 'absolute' grade but would end up with an F when weighted) but also disrupts the way a class is run.  There are very few winners, except the top few students.  Imagine an honors class, for example.  All students who are used to getting A's and possibly B's, suddenly getting C's or even F's.  Are they goofing off, skipping class, or not doing their work? Nope, they just didn't do as well as the other students.  Basing this idea off of how frustrated an honors student like me was angry I got a C+ in one class, I would have been devastated if that was weighted down to an F.

(All of the above data came from The Nature of Grading in The Clearing House, 1989, vol. 62 no. 8, pgs. 635-369)