For the last couple of days, I’ve been blogging the grading of a calculus homework assignment that has yielded a lot of
headaches interesting results. Readers will remember that calculus homework is worth 10 points. If a student fails to make significant progress on any part of any exercise — including leaving the question blank or putting down an answer without an attempt at justification — the entire assignment gets a 1 out of 10. If a student violates a formatting rule, the entire assignment gets a 1 out of 10. Here’s the breakdown:
- Number of students who got 1/10 due to formatting violations: Section A — 1; Section B — 0.
- Number of students who got 1/10 due to putting down answers without justifying work*: Section A — 7; Section B — 5.
- Number of students who got 1/10 due to leaving part of an exercise blank**: Section A — 6; Section B — 5.
- Average of grades which were not 1/10: Section A — 8.36; Section B — 8.58.
* This includes failing to explain the meaning of an answer if the problem says “State such-and-such quantity and explain its meaning.”
**This includes failing to turn the problem in on time (i.e. the rest of the assignment was turned on on time but that problem was late) and doing the wrong problem.
This amounts to between 1/3 and 1/2 of each class getting an automatic 1/10 because of “significant progress” violations. That may seem excessive, but I don’t think so. Those rules have been spelled out in multiple formats over multiple days in class and reiterated countless times. If a student still insists on writing down an answer without justifying where it came from, or refusing/neglecting to explain the meaning of an answer when asked to do so, then I want the message to get sent loud and clear that college-level work requires more than that.
I won’t be a popular guy when I hand these back tomorrow, though. (Good thing it’s not my job to be popular.)