Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Grading participation

It seems to me that anyone who has time to grade participation has got too much time on his hands and should perhaps consider teaching instead? As a followup to that thought, if you aren't implementing some sort of instantaneous computer-based participation measurement tool, how in the holy hell can you possibly grade participation? Won't it be a bit jarring to always be stopping the flow of conversation to be running to the front of the room to make some mark instead of listening to the question and thinking about it?

I remember watching a Edu-guru at a conference explain how he does it. "I keep the list up here on the podium and whenever you say something thoughtful or particularly relevant, I put a mark on the list." Every time he went back to the podium, he lost his train of thought. The only thing I could think of was Dan Willingham's discriptions of experiments on distraction in the lecture hall.

Other teachers use it as a punishment. "They won't let me implement discipline in any other way, so I'll put a daily ten-point grade in place so I can mark them down. Minus 1 for no pencil, minus 5 for no homework, and so on."
Here's a radical thought .... give the normal test at the normal time. "Let's find out how much you understand 'Solving for the Variable - Two Step Equations.' "

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