Dr. Mom, My Adventures as a Mommy-Scientist

Discussion of my journey from grad school to postdoc to tenure with two kids, a husband, (and a bit of breast cancer) in tow.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lazy Days and Final Grades

Ah, spring break. Have you ever had one of those lazy days where you just complete a lot of busy work, listen to your IPOD and kind of veg out. Yeah, that's today.

I wrapped up the course that I am teaching last week, and am now gearing up for the next one. Things went pretty smoothly, although the final was not good. I really backed myself into a corner. They did poorly on the midterm which was conceptually hard but not time limited. So I curved it, actually over curved it and promised that the final would be easier. Unfortunately, that left me with grades that were too high, and a promise for an easier final. The only way to lower the grades and have an easier test, was to make it time limited, which was a disaster. As a rule I hate time limited tests anyway because only certain kind of people perform well on them anyway, and people with test anxiety, like my DH, are at a particular disadvantage. But, I marched forward with it, and got one of the worst distributions I have seen. There were 3 A's, 1 B, a couple of C's and then the rest of my class crowded into the 50-60% range, which is almost no distribution at all. On top of that, some students who did well all quarter bombed the exam and dropped a letter grade. I did my best to amend the damage with the curve, but some people couldn't be helped without singling them out in particular. Oh well...lessons learned:

1. Don't promise students anything. You just back yourself into a corner.
2. Save curves for the end. [or make them conservative]
3. Time limited tests are a disaster, don't do it. Instead make a test more conceptually challenging.
4. Someone will always complain about their grade.

Now, that I've goofed off here, I guess I'll go back to my IPOD.


At 7:46 AM , Blogger PonderingFool said...

Good advice! Sometimes harder to carry through than we like. Happy iPoding. Enjoy!

At 6:38 PM , Blogger Holly said...

I feel lucky to have found your blog - it's encouraging to see a Dr. Mom working it in academia.

Just one Q - what's in heavy rotation on your iPod? I'm always curious to hear what fellow academics groove to.

At 11:48 AM , Blogger PhD Mom said...

Oh... I listen to a very eclectic mix of older music. I am not that old, but "modern" (i.e., post 2000) stuff doesn't really appeal to me. I have Sinatra, Neil Diamond, Arethra, Etta James, Clapton, Beatles, and being a child of the 80's Chicago, Genesis, Miami Sound Machine. I also love country so George Strait, Marty Robbins, Patsy Cline, Garth Brooks, Julie Roberts, Reba, Pam Tillis. I also like singer/songwriters so Jim Croce, Simon and Garfunkel, Dylan, James Taylor, Carly Simon...probably more than you wanted to know.


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