Lab grades and larger issues

Wilson Taylor taylorwa at UWEC.EDU
Tue Oct 28 07:47:06 EST 1997

At 10:50 AM 10/27/97, J. Greenberg wrote:

>2) Think hard about why you give grades at all, and be willing to do unusual
>things as a result of your conclusions. Who are they for? Aer they supposed
>to measure how much the student learned about the subject matter? How adept
>the student is at learning in general? Are they supposed to help the
>students identify where they need more work? If so, then they are meant at
>least partly as diagnostic, rather than evaluative: Do you offer students
>the opportunity to correct the deficiencies your tests reveal? If not, why
>bother testing at all? Do you do an item analysis of your tests? If not, how
>do you evaluate your tests? When do you think you have succeeded as a
>teacher? When the mean scores are in the 70% range? 90%? 40%? Do you feel
>that you are successful if 20 or 30% of your students fail to learn the
>subject matter? If not, what can you do to improve your classes? Remember
>that testing of student, curriculum, and nstructor go hand in hand.

This is an excellent set of questions.  In combination with Quent's
observations on the lack of training of post secondary instructors in
evaluative methods, I see real deficiencies in my training.  These were
partially redressed by a several day inservice I took several years ago
called "targeted instruction" that I believe was a condensation of about 30
credits of course work in education.  It asked many of these same questions.
The instructor of the workshop referred to his colleages in the sciences as
"sorters" with respect to their (our) grading policies.  Upon reflection,
that was the goal of my grading.  Unfortunately, I think I hit *most* of the
pearls of wisdom of that 30 credit hours in that several day workshop -
i.e., (and this seems to be the feeling of my colleagues who have been
through those education courses) the other 29 credits (at least here) seem
to be busywork, restatements and eduational jargon.  I don't quite know what
to do with that (i.e., I think I'd lose my mind if I tried to audit some of
those education courses I missed), but . . .


Wilson A. Taylor
Department of Biology
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Eau Claire, WI  54701
taylorwa at


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