Saturday, August 29, 2009

Psychology of Pricing

I had an epiphany the other day about how much each homework was worth. In our grading program we can assign different weights for different types of things: homework, tests, projects, etc. I have a totally independent category for homework and it was worth 25% of their total grade. Now since this is the only type of object in this category, it doesn't matter what each homework is worth if they're all worth the same: each 2 points, each 100 points, etc. It all comes out in the wash. My homeworks were worth 2 points each, and I deducted points (or partial points) as needed, so you could still earn 100% or 80% or so on on an assignment.

I don't know why the 2 points always worked for me. Maybe I fell prey to the psychology of pricing, too, and subconsciously I thought that tests were where you really showed your stuff, so those were worth 40 or 50 points or what have you, so the homeworks should be worth 2 points.

Anyway, at my new school, all the 9th grade classes have to have the same percentages: 45% homework/classwork and 55% tests/projects. There was some extra wording about deducting 5 points for various homework infractions, and so being new on the block and wanting to at least try things the way everyone else is doing them, I'm deciding this year to have each homework be worth 100 points. Again it shouldn't matter because it's in its own category.

So here was my epiphany. In my old school maybe part of the reason why kids were lacksadaisical about turning in their homework was because, "hey, it's only worth 2 points. no biggie if I don't turn it in." When in reality, it was a big deal because those 0's started to add up. I'm wondering if they would have had a different attitude if I'd assigned each homework 2000 points, just to mess with their minds or to get them to think about how the math all works out.

In other news, how's my new school going? Well, I think all the staff I've encountered have come from a different planet: the planet of graciousness and kindness and hard work. Oh my goodness, I can't tell you how many nice e-mails or cards or words I've gotten from other staff just to welcome me (and other new teachers, I'm sure) and check to see if I'm okay and to see if I have any questions or need anything. I'm so blessed this year. WootWoot.

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