Tell me what to grade

I was grading my first set of quizzes in my Physics of Sound and Music course today, and I realized I could do it better. First some context: This is a standards-based grading course, so that means that each quiz has several problems on it, but in the end they only get scores for each standard that is assessed. Here’s the quiz this time around:

You find yourself on an alien planet. You’re standing next to one of the very nice aliens when it (he? she? who knows when there’s 7 limbs of all shapes and sizes) claps its largest “hands” once. One second later, you notice what you thought was a rock off in the distance jump up. A while later, the whole scene repeats, so you ask what that’s all about. Your new friend tells you that the sioeuovwveoxcv rock responds to clapping sounds by jumping. At first you’re weirded out by this because the rock is only 100 meters away. Then you remember that it’s an alien planet with a different atmosphere.

  1. Why are you weirded out at first (use your data from yesterday’s lab).

  2. If you clap repetitively, how often should you clap so that the rock jumps every 0.5 seconds?

  3. Assuming you do clap repetitively every 1 second, how far apart could two rocks be so that they jump at the same time. Assume they can’t be next to each other.

While the standards assessed were:

  • I can describe sound (vague, I know, but I told them it would grow in complexity as the semester goes along), and
  • I can describe the relationships between amplitude, wavelength, frequency, and speed.

So, for each student, I looked at their work, and determined two scores (from my Noschese-inspired rubric) to give them. The second question helped me see if they could get that the rock would jump at the same rate as the clapper, only delayed. That gets at a major piece of what sound is that we’ve been talking about. The third question really gets at the wavelength/period stuff.

One of the things I noticed was how many ways to get each question right, and, similarly, wrong. We went over the quiz in class after they finished, so I didn’t spend a lot of time correcting their work. Instead I simply made a simple mark and then wrote down the scores.

And that’s when it hit me. I could finally explore something I read about from Frank Noschese a while ago. Really, what I want to borrow from that is the notion of the students indicating what they’ve done right and wrong, and also for them to make clear where they’d like feedback.

So here’s the plan: I’ll hand out the quiz, and then provide a solution when they’re done (individually – lots of paper, I suppose, but probably worth it). I’ll ask them to use a different pen color to mark on their page where they’d like to receive some feedback (further explanation, explaining “why isn’t this also correct,” etc.). I’ll also ask them to rate themselves on the relevant standards. I’m not sure how much I’ll honor that work, but it’ll be really helpful to me, I think, to see what they think.

Then, back in my office, I’ll go through them and provide individualized feedback, though, I suppose, I could see some patterns and just do a screencast or something. The goal, of course, is learning, so I’m hoping that they’ll learn something from first doing the problems, and then looking to see how they differ from my solutions.

So what do you think? Brilliant? Old hat? Dumb? Here are some comment starters for you:

  1. I’m in this class and I’m totally confused by this.
  2. I’m in this class and I think this is a great idea because _____ .
  3. I’m in this class and I think this is a horrible idea because _____ .
  4. Why don’t you do what Frank does with his stations?
  5. This is a terrible idea, because they’re just going to switch back to their original pens and fix their mistakes.
  6. This is a great idea, because they won’t go back to fix their mistakes since it’s an SBG classroom.

About Andy Rundquist

Professor of physics at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN
This entry was posted in sbar, sbg, syllabus creation, teaching. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Tell me what to grade

  1. Jared says:

    I am a student in this class and I think it is a sound (get it?) idea. If the ultimate goal is to engage the and encourage inquisitive nature of students, I believe this is the way to go. The only problem I see is with students who lack, or refuse to engage that inquisitive nature.

    • Andy "SuperFly" Rundquist says:

      I do wonder how hard I need to work to engage the types of students you refer to, Jared. At some point, students need to own their own education. If someone is in this class simply to satisfy their general education requirements, then some of these activities would seem frustrating, I would think.

  2. ambarr512 says:

    First, I really like the idea of the Describe Sound standard that will evolve over the course of the semester. It seems like it could help frame the course in a productive way where new terminology and variables are introduced as needed in order to describe and differentiate sounds in various contexts. I also like the idea that the students’ tasks isn’t simply to describe sound using a given set of characteristics but also to determine what characteristics are necessary to describe sound in a given scenario. I’ll be interested if you write more about how that standard evolves over the semester.

    I like the idea of having students identify what they did correctly on a quiz. It seems like a good opportunity for them to practice metacognition and self assessment. You might think about whether it would be worth doing a few quizzes where you and the students each identify what they did correctly and then compare. I could imagine that students might identify lots of equations in the beginning while you might identify more mechanistic reasoning or use of diagrams. I know that reading other bloggers’ examples of productive things they see in class and feedback they give students has helped improve my own ability to identify productive elements within a solution.

    • Andy "SuperFly" Rundquist says:

      I’m curious to see where that first standard goes as well. Some would say that every assessment would have to have a score on that standards. We’ll see, I guess.

      I’m interested in the notion that we compare our grading results. I think I will provide some feedback to those who are too harsh or lenient on themselves. I would hope that would create a deeper dialogue between us.

  3. bretbenesh says:

    I am wondering if the extra information you get from doing this will be worth the extra work. Keep us posted!

    • I suspect the extra info will be worth it. I’ve been doing the Frank-inspired feedbacking phase on quizzes and tests for more than a year now and as the idea evolves in my classroom, I keep getting better information from the kids. First, I ask the kids to classify their mistake (physics mistake, algebra error, or IDK moment). Then I ask them to circle where they went wrong in their solution. I get a lot of “I didn’t convert cm to m”, “I assumed closed pipe instead of open”, and “I mistyped this number in my calculator.” All of those give the kid some hope before he/she leaves the classroom that they actually knew some of what’s up on the test/quiz.

  4. Pingback: Sound and music update | SuperFly Physics

  5. Pingback: Assessment Fridays | SuperFly Physics

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