Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Well, I Give Myself an 'A' for Effort

Bad day in class. You could see the doubt and feel the weariness of my shtik, of my use of the Socratic method as a bludgeon.

There are two theories about grading. (There could be three or even four. But I'm the 15-minute man, so no long thoughts need apply.) One is you grade hard, reward progress and toss the grades from the first half of the semester. You assume improvement, and as the students improve, grim turns to grin.

Or you can grade on the curve, as it were, from day one. You have done this so many years. You pretty much know where the grades will end up, and that kid who starts with a C may learn something, may do better -- and we are talking here of written work -- but still continue to get C's.

I have always graded on improvement, but in recent years I have gotten harsher. News writing is an odd, even stylized, approach to storytelling. It is unnatural, and it takes unnatural harshness to make that point. To hell with the delayed lead! Tell me *now.*

But on days like today when you can see the resistance and the genuine disappointment -- and myself the most disappointed because these are reasonably bright kids so why can't I *make* my point? it's not like craps; there's skill involved; you make your own odds -- you think, "Why not the usual two A's, B-minus for everyone else and to hell with it?"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness that days like that are followed by better days, or we would all quit and really show those damn kids. I always factored in improvement. I told them that I'm not a computer and thus am allowed to take into consideration other sometimes non calculatable factors. They would never get lower than the actual average of their real grades. And I would be fairly tough about not padding the grade on a particular paper or test because I really wanted them to know what it was worth. But in the end I could boost the final grade. Made for some grey days after papers returned but sunshine usually in the end. That's probably more than you wanted to know! Cheers, GLO