Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Great Thoughts on Grading Physics

Read a lot of great things in various blogs today.

It all started with reading John Burks' description of using Capstones to help his physics students move from a B to an A in physics.  The basic idea is that if students demonstrate the required objectives, then the students will receive a 90%.  The students then need to synthesize the objectives to earn grades above a 90% by doing a number of rich projects.

This lead to a great article of how Kelly O'Shea implements Conjunctive Standards Based Grading. She describes having two types of objectives (Level A and Level B) and how students must show mastery of all the level A objectives to pass, all the level B objectives to receive a 90, and must show synthesis on the exam to receive scores above that.  She went into detail on how she grades a test, and provided a great example of the form she uses to score tests with.  I think using a form like this will be tremendously valuable for me grading tests and quizzes.

Kelly described how on her exam she offered several open-ended "goal-less" problems which were rich with possibility for students to demonstrate physics concepts.  Her final exam offered a handful of these, which the students had practiced throughout the year, and could now use to synthesize their understanding together, and demonstrate all they could on a topic.  I intend to make use of these "goal-less" problems this year -- though I haven't decided on exactly when or how.  

Both Kelly and John described how they allow their students to reassess on standards they missed, which lead to me reading about an application for reassessment process, by Sam Shah.  He provides an email skeleton for students to use to ask to reapply where students must first explain why they misunderstood an objective and how they understand it better, and describe specifically what they did to master the objective since the last time they took a quiz or test.  

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