- The longer I teach, the more I realize that actual “grading” at the end of the semester means little. I mean, I go through the motions, but I’ve started doing this thing where I predict what my students will earn based on their work up until about midterm/75% of the way through the semester, and typically what they earn is about what I predict (within a plus or a minus), regardless of end-of-semester assignments. Now, part of this is because I don’t believe in weighting Finals so heavily that they can totally change a grade. Part of why I don’t believe in this is pedagogically sound: it’s because, in the classes where this was possible, I used that so heavily to my advantage as an undergraduate, so I slacked for like 10 weeks and then I pulled out all the stops at the end, and I actually didn’t retain or learn very much. But I won’t lie: part of why I do that now is laziness: the grading at the bitter end will be less brutal for me as a professor.
- It’s been interesting (and gratifying) for me to see the way that certain students who started out weak at the beginning of the semester (in more than one course) and who took advantage of my offer to meet with them really were able to improve BY VAST AMOUNTS by the end. They have improved so much, and I really see that as the result of one-on-one instruction. Worth noting: this is why I get annoyed by colleagues who don’t hold office hours (even though we are “required” to do so) or who make their office hours so rigid that it prohibits students from taking advantage of them. And when people say, “But students don’t come to office hours,” I will admit that my response is, “Um, mine do. Sometimes I hold like 6 office hours a week because there is so much demand.” Maybe it’s not that “students,” generally, won’t come, but that you suck.
- This is also why I hate the process of student evals, though, because yeah, you might have gotten Ds on a couple of papers, but that doesn’t mean you will get a D in the class. WHY CAN’T STUDENTS UNDERSTAND MATH? I believe in giving you the D that you deserve, but I also weight earlier grades less than later grades, so you should know that if you LEARN over the course of the semester that you will be fine. But students (or at least my students) don’t get that, and so I get semi-crappy evaluation numbers, just because THEY CAN’T DO MATH. They are all like, “she thinks this is a GRADUATE COURSE,” when what I’m actually thinking is, “IMPROVE!” And almost universally, they do. And their grades are FINE, in the final estimation. (When I say “fine,” I mean that a large majority of my students end up in the A-C+ range. And not because of grade inflation.)
- On Students Not Understanding Math, why do students who haven’t submitted more than 60 percent of the assignments in a course think that taking the final will allow them to pass? Why do they show up after they have disappeared for 8 weeks? Just why?
- I also have had a couple of students this semester who took a course with me at the sophomore level and then another at the junior level, and it’s been gratifying to see (in terms of looking at how my grading shakes out) that those students earned higher grades in the lower level course than in the higher level. Which, I think, is as it should be. (Note: I didn’t do this intentionally: it was how it all shook out in terms of assessments and rubrics.) Expectations should be higher in upper-level courses than in lower-level courses. I’m glad that mine align with that ideal.
- I have weird dry skin issues because of the weather this year. It sucks. (I typically have really good skin, so perhaps I’m being a baby. But I am used to having perfect skin, and this is unacceptable.)
- A thing that has been annoying me lately in my department is that a certain minority of my colleagues have been bitching at Every. Single. Department Meeting. about how their courses don’t make enrollment and about how it’s the fault of the curriculum, and they do so under the auspices of agenda items that are not about this issue, and they never bring forth a proposal (to put on the AGENDA for a vote) to solve the “problem” that they see. (My annoyance stems from the fact that a) I have to listen to them bitch unproductively, and b) they end up getting “rewarded” with 2 preps rather than 3 preps or the 4 that I teach because their courses get cancelled.) Right, now, however, I am less annoyed because in spite of the fact that I am teaching an upper-level course next semester that is for all intents and purposes a “new” course (it’s been on the books since Vietnam – literally – but it hasn’t been taught for the 10 years I’ve been here) is totally fine in terms of enrollment, whereas some courses that should have NO PROBLEM (think: SHAKESPEARE) have been cancelled. Here’s the thing: maybe the problem isn’t the curriculum, or the students, or the schedule. MAYBE THE PROBLEM IS YOU. The problem doesn’t appear to be ME, even though I am ostensibly among the toughest (if not the toughest) professor in the department. (These colleagues often argue that the problem is because their courses are the most rigorous… except that’s totally not what’s going on.)
- The dating. Where do I begin? There are two primary guys right now: Geographically Convenient Guy (who literally lives like an 8-minute leisurely walk from my house) and Tortured Artist (whom I will go out with this weekend). I like GCG a lot. (We met Tuesday.) Partly because of the convenience, I won’t lie, but even aside from that, he has lots of good qualities. I’m less enthralled with TA, just because he seems so EARNEST (though perhaps I will find that he is a delight upon meeting? And I do like his name better than I like the name of GCG, which I realize is weird and shallow, but a good name goes a long way). At the end of the day, though, I’m enjoying the dating fun, and it is taking the edge off the end of the semester nicely. Worth noting: I found both of these dudes in the sad sea of what I think is the cesspool of internet dating – Plenty of Fish. Also worth noting: they are both better (on paper, and in life) than any guy I’ve ever found on sites that require one to pay money… it just took me sifting through the dregs of society to find them. (Seriously: the DREGS.) So we shall see.
RBOC: Thoughts on Grading, and Other End-Of-Semester Preoccupations
December 12, 2013 by Dr. Crazy
Don’t Steal My Writing. Plagiarism is for Losers.
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On Crazy’s Agenda
* polish long article that I should have sent off like a year ago and send it off to editor of Fancy Journal.
* draft of Chapter 2.
* revise talk into article and submit it.