Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Regrading Issues

Yeesh! I thought I was careful, brought on by bad experiences and lots of practice, but today ....

Way back when in the early days of teaching, when I'd grade a test/quiz/homework, and something was missing (a problem not done, a justification, some work), I learned pretty quickly to make sure to look carefully at ALL the blank space around it, and if there was, say a blank side of the page, I'd draw a diagonal mark through it to indicate I'd noted it, and also to prevent the kiddies from later on, after they'd got the paper back, ADDING something to that blank space and then claim that it'd been there all along, and then demand/request/beg more points because it was MY mistake. Ditto for blank parts of pages and such.

I know I make mistakes ... still happens ... daily ... so this marking and covering up of blank space cut down these instances dramatically. It also cut down my 2nd guessing myself that I'd missed something.

Well, we had a ton of swine flu absences a few weeks ago, and many students missed many days, and some are still making up old tests and homework. One student had come in last week to make up a geometry test. I had a meeting after school, so I put her in a windowed smaller room that I glanced in on periodically and had her work. She took forever, and it looked as if she had not studied. I think she was assuming I'd give her the same version as everyone else and not a make-up version, and she had used a friend's returned test to study the answers instead of studying concepts. She finally handed it in, and I graded it. 68/100. Ewww. On one unchanged problem, she MAGICALLY produced the answer and none of her work supported it. On another, she showed some work, but then guessed and checked an answer .... but didn't check the geometry constraints.

On a third problem, the one I had "regrading issues" with, I had made a table where students were supposed to fill in 7 cells. She left a whole column blank - 4 cells (logic symbols). I circled the whole column and put a question mark through it and graded on. Today she came to talk to me. Amongst other things, she showed me that she had written those missing answers in small letters in another column (this was a logic section, and the answers were like " p->q " and such). Hmmmmm, I didn't outright accuse her of lying, but I questioned her as to why she didn't put those answers in the right column. She had some story about how she had written them there to help her with another problem, and she didn't know what I was expecting in this problem's column titled "symbols".

I know I'm overly cynical about such things at times, and about 50% of the time I'm wrong, and I'd HATE to accuse someone of outright lying if it weren't true (it happened to me in high school with a teacher and I still remember it to this day). So, I didn't say more and gave her 1/2 the points back, but now I'll have to remember this and be more careful in the future.


  1. I'm totally with you! When you read statistics about cheating, it is crazy! And now she has lost your trust; everything of hers that you grade in the future will be more closely scrutinized. Not really the effect she was probably going for either.

    I think you would have been fine to have left the grade...the answer wasn't in the right place. Reading directions is a still we also need to work on. Perhaps would lead to more cautious work in the future.

    Did anyone else have a tough time with that direction? I know that there have been times where I have said, "Ohhhh that stinks that you didn't understand what that meant. I'm sorry." I do truly mean it.

    A D+ (68%) on a test from when one was gone is very reasonable. It happens. And with grade and ego inflation, students some times have a misunderstanding as to what they are really capable of.

    I'm so impressed that you gave another test! That takes a TON of time! This is also why I don't let them keep the test.

  2. Anonymous2:17 PM

    Thanks, Science Teacher. I'm still thinking, "cheater, cheater" when I see her in class, but I try to keep it out of my voice and face. Other people were fine with that question, but you're right, if more people were bombing that one, I'd begin to wonder.

    Ms. Cookie

  3. It is hard to not have permanent "C" now engraved on her forehead. This could just be one mistake.

  4. The best defense in catching the dishonest student is good offense, like your new habit of marking through blank spaces. When I have a questionable paper, I scan it before handing it back to the student. That makes any additions/changes glaringly apparent. Usually, you can still be green and just pdf them, not printing them out unless you need them for hard evidence.

    Sadly, today's students do not really understand what plagierism means in mathematics. They have spent so much time in early grades with someone looking only at the answer. We need to talk directly about the difference between talking through a homework problem with a friend and just taking the friend's work outright. The first is two people working together, for shared effort with both deserving the reward. The second needs to be spelled out as CHEATING.

    The internet poses a new kind of math plagierism. Because students have done the work of looking it up on the internet, they sometime see it as "earned work" when they have devoted no thinking time to the mathematical aspects. Many students do not view this as cheating. Again, the more proactive we are in telling students what we do and do not expect with regard to web use, the better the results for everyone.