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Author Topic: Brief "assignments" to make sure students do the reading  (Read 8310 times)
anthroang
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« Reply #30 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 #31 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 #32 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 #33 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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llanfair
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« Reply #34 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 #35 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 #36 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 #37 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 #38 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 #39 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 #40 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 #41 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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« Reply #42 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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systeme_d_
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« Reply #43 on: December 29, 2012, 7:43:11 pm »

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?

The bit you quoted from my post is actually taken verbatim from my syllabus.

So yes, I absolutely tell students about this grading scale.  I am very clear about it, and I explain the system in class on the first day, and again a couple of weeks into the quarter.

In my post here on the fora, I'm not sure if I included the fact that I drop the two lowest scores at the end of the quarter.  I am very clear about that to my students, though, and I tell them that this is because "everyone has an off day or two.  For instance, you might have a midterm in another class, and decide to skim or [gasp!] even skip the reading for this one.  Because I drop the two lowest grades, your final writing exercise grade won't suffer because life happens."  They LOVE that bit. 

I also explicitly designate this "writing exercise" grade as the most significant portion of their "engagement grade," which, together with class participation [5% of their final grade], constitutes 25% of their final grade.

It's all part of my plan to keep getting great student evaluations, because I have to earn tenure again in my new job.

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piledhigheranddeeper
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« Reply #44 on: December 30, 2012, 12:00:14 pm »

I am a fan of 15 minute announced quizzes at the beginning of most classes.  Assign 1 or 2 questions that hit the big ideas from the readings and class.

Double entry journals are good.  They do an entry before class discussion and an entry after class discussion on the topic.  Have random journal checks where you collect them.

Have them submit the entry electronically prior to class or post on blackboard to be read by you or others.  Read so many for quality control.

You could use a discussion board on Blackboard possibly.  You might ask questions.  So many points for asking a question or starting a thread and so many points for responding to a thread.

Use the Socratic method.  Ask students lots of questions.  Make sure you call on all students.  Keep track of their preparedness when called upon.  You might give participation points for performance.  You might give a bonus point for really good answers or the first volunteer, or the first one to answer a hard question correctly.

Please do not call your worksheets worksheets.  They are study guides or study tools.  You might create guided notes for them to complete with a reading or a reading guide/study guide for them to complete with the reading or discussion questions, or create a chart or graphic organizer for students to complete.  Collect and grade some of these things at least randomly.  You might look at a book on college teaching strategies, content area reading strategies by Vacca & Vacca or someone else, or a social science/social studies method textbook. Modeling good pedagogy and strategies is good for students who are planning to teach.  Sounds like youa are
already using some reading, study, and learning strategies. 

Making students  discussion leaders for a reading can be fun. 

Additionally it can be fun to set up a jigsaw classroom for some sessions. 
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