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Author Topic: Brief "assignments" to make sure students do the reading  (Read 8098 times)
history_grrrl
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« Reply #30 on: December 24, 2012, 8:45:28 PM »

Folks, I am eagerly reading your responses; thanks! These are great ideas. I come away convinced that it will be better to drop my first (3-5 page) writing assignment in favor of weekly response papers or something like that. That way I can make the weekly responses 10% of the grade, or maybe even 15%. Last year, when I did these (or the worksheets), I gave each student two "skip" passes that they could turn in during any two weeks of their choosing, which allowed them to skip the weekly task for those weeks; I'll probably do that again, to give us all a break periodically.
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anthroang
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« Reply #31 on: December 24, 2012, 9:01:03 PM »

In large intro classes, I give multiple choice reading quizzes online through the course management system. The quizzes are due by the start of class and are graded automatically. I usually allow students to take them multiple times and the highest grade is recorded. A quiz is posted each week, but students only need to complete 10 (of 14) through the semester. That way everyone has a chance to miss a couple with no penalty, and I don't worry about make up quizzes. Students generally come in having at least looked at the reading and with a basic familiarity with the vocabulary. Sometimes they come in with questions about the quiz and we start class there.

In smaller seminar or discussion based classes, I've had students write short reflection essays on the week's reading, usually also requiring 7-10 through the semester.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2012, 9:05:50 PM by anthroang » Logged
shadowfaxe
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« Reply #32 on: December 24, 2012, 9:09:47 PM »

This was the very thread I was looking for.  I'm convinced that not more than 10% of my survey students did the readings last semester, based on their grades and their student eval comments.  Some of them expect that lectures will teach them the test and only that . . .

Has anybody tried in-class worksheets/quizzes with peer grading?  Is there a way to be successful with this?  I'm thinking of having the "graders" write the alpha portion of their student ID on the worksheet that they're correcting.   That might lessen the incentive for the students to go easy on their peers, and it will keep the grading anonymous.  I like to review quiz and exam answers in class; that way, students can see where they went wrong.

I gave myself too much grading this past semester . . . if I don't knock out another article by May, I'll be toast.  But I don't want to short change the freshpeeps, either.

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larryc
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« Reply #33 on: December 24, 2012, 9:33:11 PM »

Weekly reading quizzes are the way to go! Each quiz is four questions, students have to pick three and answer them. Instructions: Please answer three of the following questions in brief paragraphs of 2-3 complete sentences COMPLETE WITH SPECIFIC DETAILS THAT PROVE YOU DID THE READING.

Sample question: "From the article by David Downer, why did northerners in the 1870s turn their backs on Reconstruction. What are TWO specific pieces of evidence that he uses?"

No specific details, zero credit. Tell the students sternly when you hand back the first quiz not to waste your time bluffing because that is an inslut to both of you (look angry!), just leave answers blank if they did not do the reading.

These are literally glance-and-grade (15 inutes for a 20 person class), they give students a chance to prove what they know rather than try to catch them on what they don't, and they train students to do the reading. After two weeks every student wil have done (or at least skimmed) the reading every time and the discussions after the quiz are much, much improved. Drop the two lowest quizzes.

Students actually come to love this because after two weeks most get As or Bs on every quiz. Slackers drop the course.
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usukprof
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« Reply #34 on: December 24, 2012, 9:52:28 PM »

Weekly reading quizzes are the way to go! Each quiz is four questions, students have to pick three and answer them. Instructions: Please answer three of the following questions in brief paragraphs of 2-3 complete sentences COMPLETE WITH SPECIFIC DETAILS THAT PROVE YOU DID THE READING.

Sample question: "From the article by David Downer, why did northerners in the 1870s turn their backs on Reconstruction. What are TWO specific pieces of evidence that he uses?"

No specific details, zero credit. Tell the students sternly when you hand back the first quiz not to waste your time bluffing because that is an inslut to both of you (look angry!), just leave answers blank if they did not do the reading.

You say "Don't con me!"?
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polly_mer
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« Reply #35 on: December 25, 2012, 8:24:01 AM »

Slackers drop the course.

One of these semesters, I'd like to have this happen.  My slackers just keep coming to class about a third of the time, failing the soft-ball-dang-just-make-an-effort items, and then writing bad evaluations of me prior to earning those D's and F's.

On the plus side, based on following your advice (and similar advice on these fora), I generally have very good peer evaluations on the efforts I am making to try to reach the students we have so that students who fail are obviously failing themselves.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2012, 8:24:24 AM by polly_mer » Logged

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llanfair
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« Reply #36 on: December 25, 2012, 11:40:36 AM »

Folks, I am eagerly reading your responses; thanks! These are great ideas. I come away convinced that it will be better to drop my first (3-5 page) writing assignment in favor of weekly response papers or something like that. That way I can make the weekly responses 10% of the grade, or maybe even 15%. Last year, when I did these (or the worksheets), I gave each student two "skip" passes that they could turn in during any two weeks of their choosing, which allowed them to skip the weekly task for those weeks; I'll probably do that again, to give us all a break periodically.

Ooh, I love this idea! I know mine would appreciate this, too.
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dr_mk
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« Reply #37 on: December 26, 2012, 3:45:17 PM »

I have the students complete reading "quizzes" online. They can take the quiz with the book right in front of them. Some of the questions are true/false or multiple choice questions on the reading. Some are longer answers that they have to write and I have to grade, but our CMS makes it easy to do this. The benefit of this is that I know the students have at the very least encountered terms and material, and I can review the results right before class and see what topics I need to spend extra time on.

I also always include a question (for 0 points) that says, "What material in this chapter would you like me to cover more in class?" My students always identify the points that are confusing them, and I'm able to focus the discussion a bit more.
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cine_elle
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« Reply #38 on: December 26, 2012, 6:16:58 PM »

I also always include a question (for 0 points) that says, "What material in this chapter would you like me to cover more in class?" My students always identify the points that are confusing them, and I'm able to focus the discussion a bit more.

That's a great idea. I might borrow that next semester.
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llanfair
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« Reply #39 on: December 26, 2012, 6:45:45 PM »

I also always include a question (for 0 points) that says, "What material in this chapter would you like me to cover more in class?" My students always identify the points that are confusing them, and I'm able to focus the discussion a bit more.

That's a great idea. I might borrow that next semester.

Me too.  Thanks!
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larryc
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« Reply #40 on: December 26, 2012, 7:22:39 PM »

Here are two examples of my quizzes, both from my undergrad Indian History course:

Name: __________________________________
History 330, Quiz #2
Instructions: Answer three of the following questions in complete sentences with specific details that will make me gasp aloud, “Now there is a student who mastered the readings!”

1.   From the website Native Tech, describe two kinds of native technology.  What materials did they use and how did they work.  (25 points)

2.   In Eastern Woodlands native society, what were two of the powers possessed by menstruating women? (25 points)

3.   In Eastern Woodlands native society, what are two ways in which children were disciplined?

4. Provide two details concerning Indian funeral practices. (25 points)



Name: _________________________________________________
Quiz #10

Instructions:  Answer the following questions in short paragraphs of 2-3 complete sentences, brimming with specific details and penetrating insights.

1.   From the Shepler article, “Navajo Code Talkers, America's Secret Weapon,” what are two specific details that you learned? (25 points)

2.   From your detailed notes over last week's fascinating and insightful lecture "Shadowfaker: Edward Curtiss and the Indians of the Northwest," what are three problems with Curtis’ photographs?

3.   From Mister’s Iverson and Hurtado, what was the Indian New Deal?  What were its major provisions and how did it work out.  (50 points)
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usukprof
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« Reply #41 on: December 29, 2012, 11:33:44 AM »

Geez, I'd think that the gasping, brimming, and penetrating would be worth extra credit.  But I really like your intros even if they are just part of the requirement to get 100 points.
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kiana
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« Reply #42 on: December 29, 2012, 12:16:22 PM »

After reading these, I really want to take Larryc's class.
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mystictechgal
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« Reply #43 on: December 29, 2012, 1:52:57 PM »

After reading these, I really want to take Larryc's class.

Same here. And, what a great site (Native Tech) Larry! I've already "wasted" an hour poking around there and on the linked sites. I'm sure I'll be spending more time there in the future. Bookmarked.
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hungry_ghost
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« Reply #44 on: December 29, 2012, 5:48:09 PM »

At the end of the course, a predominance of check plus grades converts to an A/95.  A predominance of checks (with at least one check plus or with no check minuses) converts to a B/85.  A predominance of checks (with at least one check minus) converts to a C/75.  A predominance of check minuses with some checks converts to a D/65, and a predominance of check minuses with no checks converts to an F/55 or an F/0, depending on whether any effort to engage with the reading was perceptible in the writing. 

This approach to grading (lots of short easy assignments, checks with pluses or minuses) is very similar to mine, though I use it for all participation/preparation tasks, including short reading quizzes at the beginning of class, plus evaluations of class discussions and end-of-class minute papers. I think it is an excellent system and as fair as anything I can come up with.

I have a question: do you tell students about this "grading scale"? How explicit are you? Do you get any complaints that your grading is not sufficiently clear, whether in assessing check vs. check plus or in determining the final score?

I'm asking since I've been told to expect that my students next semester will be unusually grade-conscious. (The demographic is unusual--most of the class will be international students from a culture where this is the norm.) As I design my course policies I'm trying to set myself up for as few problems as possible. I don't want to have to deal with a pile of grade-grubbers pestering me about check vs check plus. This is the "preparation/participation" grade, and I also would like to leave myself a little latitude to nudge up a grade for the odd deserving student, for example, one who starts out weak but finishes strong, etc.
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