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.