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Author Topic: students who don't recognize the answer  (Read 8559 times)
macadamia
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« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2012, 2:08:26 PM »

It is absolutely legitimate to take off lots of points for adding nonsense to a correct stuff (and no, horrible algebra mistakes are not the most horrible things by far).

On the other hand, one should not make to sweeping conclusions on the knowledge of the nonsense perpetrators. It is amazing what kind of nonsense one can write down while having the correct idea in a slightly confused and distracted head.

But I have to say that I have found that math grades are quite robust with respect to type of question asked. We tried asking one "easy" question at the beginning of the test. The students who could answer the easy question were the same ones that could answer the difficult one necessitating lots of preparation.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2012, 2:10:14 PM by macadamia » Logged

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polly_mer
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« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2012, 6:01:22 PM »

But I'm in the humanities, so situations like the OP's don't really arise.

Actually, when I gave identification or short answer questions on exams at PepsiU, I would get "Sarkozy"-type answers on a regular basis. The students think they're hedging their bets. I now include a disclaimer on short answer questions that factually incorrect information will be marked wrong.

And on a quiz with a simple question:  "Who is the murderer in this story?" there is always at least one student who responds with two answers, hoping one is correct.  So I tell my students that I only accept the first answer; they can't just make a list.

Wow, you accept the first answer?  I mark a zero on the whole thing if the question clearly has N answers and someone puts greater than N things.  I explain to my students that answering, "What are the three colors in the American flag?", with "Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Black, and White" tells me that the student has no clue and is hoping to get lucky whereas "Red, white, and dang, I forgot" is a pretty good answer.
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nucleo
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« Reply #17 on: May 03, 2012, 7:29:14 PM »

And on a quiz with a simple question:  "Who is the murderer in this story?" there is always at least one student who responds with two answers, hoping one is correct.  So I tell my students that I only accept the first answer; they can't just make a list.
Wow, you accept the first answer?  I mark a zero on the whole thing if the question clearly has N answers and someone puts greater than N things.  I explain to my students that answering, "What are the three colors in the American flag?", with "Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Black, and White" tells me that the student has no clue and is hoping to get lucky whereas "Red, white, and dang, I forgot" is a pretty good answer.

The way I'd mark that one is that for each missing or extra answer, I take off half a point until there are no points left.  So "Red, white, and dang, I forgot" and "Red, white, blue, and green" would both lose half a point, while "Red, white, and green" would lose the full point (and these types of questions are typically worth one mark for me).

Where I see this most frequently is when I ask students to expand, say, (x+3)(x^2-3), for two points.  Almost all students will multiply this out correctly, but the weaker students will then try to factor it.  I take off one for the attempt to factor, and then point out in class that if they'd done it correctly, they should get the original answer.  However, the students who try to factor it again are invariably weak enough that they don't even get close to the original answer.  Then, meanie that I am, I'll take off the remaining point for whatever algebraic atrocity they committed in screwing up the factoring.
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polly_mer
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« Reply #18 on: May 03, 2012, 7:36:19 PM »

And on a quiz with a simple question:  "Who is the murderer in this story?" there is always at least one student who responds with two answers, hoping one is correct.  So I tell my students that I only accept the first answer; they can't just make a list.
Wow, you accept the first answer?  I mark a zero on the whole thing if the question clearly has N answers and someone puts greater than N things.  I explain to my students that answering, "What are the three colors in the American flag?", with "Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Black, and White" tells me that the student has no clue and is hoping to get lucky whereas "Red, white, and dang, I forgot" is a pretty good answer.

The way I'd mark that one is that for each missing or extra answer, I take off half a point until there are no points left.  So "Red, white, and dang, I forgot" and "Red, white, blue, and green" would both lose half a point, while "Red, white, and green" would lose the full point (and these types of questions are typically worth one mark for me).

Well, I thought about that when I was making up the policy, but the second answer seems more wrong to me than the first answer.  I told you three and you put four so not only don't you know the answer, but you can't apply basic logic, either.
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nucleo
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« Reply #19 on: May 03, 2012, 8:06:48 PM »

And on a quiz with a simple question:  "Who is the murderer in this story?" there is always at least one student who responds with two answers, hoping one is correct.  So I tell my students that I only accept the first answer; they can't just make a list.
Wow, you accept the first answer?  I mark a zero on the whole thing if the question clearly has N answers and someone puts greater than N things.  I explain to my students that answering, "What are the three colors in the American flag?", with "Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Black, and White" tells me that the student has no clue and is hoping to get lucky whereas "Red, white, and dang, I forgot" is a pretty good answer.

The way I'd mark that one is that for each missing or extra answer, I take off half a point until there are no points left.  So "Red, white, and dang, I forgot" and "Red, white, blue, and green" would both lose half a point, while "Red, white, and green" would lose the full point (and these types of questions are typically worth one mark for me).

Well, I thought about that when I was making up the policy, but the second answer seems more wrong to me than the first answer.  I told you three and you put four so not only don't you know the answer, but you can't apply basic logic, either.

Ah, good point.  You see, I'd never actually tell them how many answers they should be giving...
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lohai0
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« Reply #20 on: May 03, 2012, 8:08:19 PM »

I teach Calculus II and III. I have developed a technique where all problems are worth 5 points. This makes partial credit easier.

-1 if you make an arithmetic error
-2 if you used the correct technique but didn't make it all the way to the end.
-3 if you made an H.A.M. (horrible algebra mistake, like thinking (x + y)^2 = x^2 + y^2
-4 if you were in the room while a test was taking place and wrote something down.

So, in the case of the problem you are talking about, I would grade it -2 -- not confident enough to stop at the right answer.

Welcome, fellow math person! My 5 point scale is a little more cynical, but pretty much the same:

1: not blank
2: at least semi-related fake work
3: approximately half right
4: minor error (dropped minus sign, etc)
5: correct with correct work

ptarmigan, in this case I'd give a 3/5, because I hate half points. Otherwise 2.5.
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ptarmigan
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« Reply #21 on: May 03, 2012, 9:26:47 PM »

I teach Calculus II and III. I have developed a technique where all problems are worth 5 points. This makes partial credit easier.

-1 if you make an arithmetic error
-2 if you used the correct technique but didn't make it all the way to the end.
-3 if you made an H.A.M. (horrible algebra mistake, like thinking (x + y)^2 = x^2 + y^2
-4 if you were in the room while a test was taking place and wrote something down.

So, in the case of the problem you are talking about, I would grade it -2 -- not confident enough to stop at the right answer.

Welcome, fellow math person! My 5 point scale is a little more cynical, but pretty much the same:

1: not blank
2: at least semi-related fake work
3: approximately half right
4: minor error (dropped minus sign, etc)
5: correct with correct work

ptarmigan, in this case I'd give a 3/5, because I hate half points. Otherwise 2.5.

When I teach my own class, I will definitely be grading things on a 5-or-so-point scale. The lecture prof I've worked for this year insists on having each problem (on the quizzes) be worth 20 or 30 points. And, yes, I know that points scale, but it still feels different/wrong.

I ended up giving half-credit for the style of answer I was asking about here. The poor kids had an exam Tuesday followed by a quiz on Thursday and I graded it a bit generously to help them out.
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tuxthepenguin
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« Reply #22 on: May 04, 2012, 12:18:55 AM »

I teach Calculus II and III. I have developed a technique where all problems are worth 5 points. This makes partial credit easier.

-1 if you make an arithmetic error
-2 if you used the correct technique but didn't make it all the way to the end.
-3 if you made an H.A.M. (horrible algebra mistake, like thinking (x + y)^2 = x^2 + y^2
-4 if you were in the room while a test was taking place and wrote something down.

So, in the case of the problem you are talking about, I would grade it -2 -- not confident enough to stop at the right answer.

Welcome, fellow math person! My 5 point scale is a little more cynical, but pretty much the same:

1: not blank
2: at least semi-related fake work
3: approximately half right
4: minor error (dropped minus sign, etc)
5: correct with correct work

ptarmigan, in this case I'd give a 3/5, because I hate half points. Otherwise 2.5.

Not saying you're wrong, but I'm curious why. They're supposed to demonstrate that they know the answer. They're just throwing a bunch of things they saw in the lecture down on paper. That shows that they don't understand anything. They're not even claiming that the correct answer is correct. That's about the strongest evidence you can have that they don't understand the material.

In a class of 80 students, with three exams per semester, I give 240 exams. I get no complaints about my grading. I explain my reasoning the lecture before the exam, then I write the grading policy on the exam, then I remind them of it before I hand out the exam. I've had a lot of students tell me that they like my policy. It relieves them of having to play games if they don't know the answer.
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lohai0
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« Reply #23 on: May 04, 2012, 1:30:38 AM »

I teach Calculus II and III. I have developed a technique where all problems are worth 5 points. This makes partial credit easier.

-1 if you make an arithmetic error
-2 if you used the correct technique but didn't make it all the way to the end.
-3 if you made an H.A.M. (horrible algebra mistake, like thinking (x + y)^2 = x^2 + y^2
-4 if you were in the room while a test was taking place and wrote something down.

So, in the case of the problem you are talking about, I would grade it -2 -- not confident enough to stop at the right answer.

Welcome, fellow math person! My 5 point scale is a little more cynical, but pretty much the same:

1: not blank
2: at least semi-related fake work
3: approximately half right
4: minor error (dropped minus sign, etc)
5: correct with correct work

ptarmigan, in this case I'd give a 3/5, because I hate half points. Otherwise 2.5.

Not saying you're wrong, but I'm curious why. They're supposed to demonstrate that they know the answer. They're just throwing a bunch of things they saw in the lecture down on paper. That shows that they don't understand anything. They're not even claiming that the correct answer is correct. That's about the strongest evidence you can have that they don't understand the material.

In a class of 80 students, with three exams per semester, I give 240 exams. I get no complaints about my grading. I explain my reasoning the lecture before the exam, then I write the grading policy on the exam, then I remind them of it before I hand out the exam. I've had a lot of students tell me that they like my policy. It relieves them of having to play games if they don't know the answer.

I don't think it really matters and long as the guidelines are clear and consistent. With the student population I am working with now, there are two general groups that will go with this sort of shotgun approach and hit the right answer by accident: (1) really anxious type A students and (2) students with no understanding. For the first group, losing points for shotgun problem solving is enough of a deterrent that this strategy goes away quickly. For the other group, they are still failing the problem, but are close enough to passing that they might keep trying. FWIW, I grade on total points (usually 5000+ points in a course) so I feel like a point here or there will wash out at the end anyway.
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wittgenstein
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« Reply #24 on: May 07, 2012, 4:35:36 PM »

I developed the 5 point scale after TAing for a prof in grad school who counted some problems 8 or 9 points. Those of us who were her graders spent hours trying to figure out a consistent way to grade certain college algebra problems.

Also, the longer I teach, the more I think spending hours obsessing over partial credit is not time well spent. I don't see how this time helps students learn.
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tuxthepenguin
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« Reply #25 on: May 07, 2012, 8:35:16 PM »

Also, the longer I teach, the more I think spending hours obsessing over partial credit is not time well spent. I don't see how this time helps students learn.

You're 100% correct.

Here is my reasoning. I asked a question, they didn't give me the right answer, so it is wrong. "Sort of correct" is not a well-defined concept. It doesn't help the students or anyone else to pretend a wrong answer is right just so the students don't complain.

I'm more likely to give full credit for a wrong answer, rather than partial credit, on the basis that they've demonstrated their knowledge but missed a few less important details. If the details really are important, they don't know what they're doing, so they don't deserve partial credit.

If I give partial credit it's actually because there are several small questions in one. In that case it's trivial to decide how much "partial credit" to award. In my opinion partial credit is a signal that you need to change the way you're teaching or writing your exams. Partial credit is a sign that you're not being clear about something - normally you are asking vague questions. Even essay questions shouldn't be given 3/5 points.

That's why I can't see why the OP is fussing about partial credit. They clearly gave the wrong answer. They should get the score that is appropriate for a wrong answer.
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polly_mer
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« Reply #26 on: May 08, 2012, 7:49:23 AM »

Well, to defend partial credit, I often ask questions that are too difficult for all but the advanced students.  That's what will happen to my engineers in their daily life and I'm testing to see if students know what they don't know.

I also ask questions that require far more time than students will have on the test to see if students can plan instead of just randomly flailing around.  A reasonable, but will show itself to be wrong in the details if the student put the three hours into following it, plan is an acceptable answer.

In my non-majors classes, I ask essay questions that could be answered using only the class material (that's a 3/5), but should draw from outside of class experience to get full credit.

What should I do with someone who works the full 10 steps for a problem, but had a finger slip on the calculator to end up with something that is the right order of magnitude, but not the right number?  That's a 0 out of 100, really?  No, that's a 90 because doing all those calculations three times for consistency is a waste of effort for a freakin' test.
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macadamia
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Posts: 421


« Reply #27 on: May 08, 2012, 3:22:04 PM »

What should I do with someone who works the full 10 steps for a problem, but had a finger slip on the calculator to end up with something that is the right order of magnitude, but not the right number?  That's a 0 out of 100, really?  No, that's a 90 because doing all those calculations three times for consistency is a waste of effort for a freakin' test.

The issue is that some students have so many "finger slips" that it is absolutely impossible that they can solve any 10-steps problem correctly. I usually give partial credit, but last week, we had a multiple choice quiz and one (otherwise charming) student lost her cool and accused me of making them all fail by giving a multiple choice quiz that obviously cannot give partial credit.
I looked up the grades afterwards and she is indeed one of the very few students who did worse on the multiple choice quiz than on the essay ones.
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polly_mer
practice makes perfect
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #28 on: May 08, 2012, 4:36:07 PM »

What should I do with someone who works the full 10 steps for a problem, but had a finger slip on the calculator to end up with something that is the right order of magnitude, but not the right number?  That's a 0 out of 100, really?  No, that's a 90 because doing all those calculations three times for consistency is a waste of effort for a freakin' test.

The issue is that some students have so many "finger slips" that it is absolutely impossible that they can solve any 10-steps problem correctly. I usually give partial credit, but last week, we had a multiple choice quiz and one (otherwise charming) student lost her cool and accused me of making them all fail by giving a multiple choice quiz that obviously cannot give partial credit.
I looked up the grades afterwards and she is indeed one of the very few students who did worse on the multiple choice quiz than on the essay ones.

Well, I can't help with people who shoot themselves in the foot and keep reloading.

I can be generous (as my professors were with me) for people who make one finger slip in an otherwise perfect problem that is one-quarter of the test.

I do give partial credit for multistep multiple choice problems where the work is shown.  The drawback on that is a correct answer with no work is also only partial credit.
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tuxthepenguin
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Posts: 1,574


« Reply #29 on: May 08, 2012, 11:10:52 PM »

What should I do with someone who works the full 10 steps for a problem, but had a finger slip on the calculator to end up with something that is the right order of magnitude, but not the right number?  That's a 0 out of 100, really?  No, that's a 90 because doing all those calculations three times for consistency is a waste of effort for a freakin' test.

For me, that's full credit. The student has given the correct answer by showing how to do it. Hopefully in real life an engineer is doing the calculations three times.

If a question really does require 10 steps (I'd normally break it up into smaller pieces) I will specify that each correct step is worth x points. They either do each step correctly for x points or zero points. My post was in response to the OP, who is clearly doing things differently.
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