Let me tell you what’s been on my mind lately. Partial credit. By partial credit, I mean assigning a point value to a student response that is less than the highest possible point value for that problem because the student didn’t get the final answer correct, but the solution process wasn’t completely incorrect. I have traditionally used this as a grading technique for for multi-step tasks.
In some ways it seems natural. You are giving a student points for evidence of learning. If a student is attempting a 3-point task, fumbles up on one single step and so ends with a wrong answer, shouldn’t the student get to salvage a bit of “credit” for performing portions of the problem correct?
In some other ways, though, it would seem natural that if a student gets incorrect final answers for most or all of the problems on a math assignment, the score wouldn’t be very good. However, through the use of partial credit grading, it is possible for a student to earning a decent grade on an assignment having not actually gotten any of the questions correct.
This problem has blown up on the last unit test for my Algebra II students. This is a class where I am one of three people involved in teaching and planning and I have been out-voted to create exclusively multiple-choice tests, which, becomes a serious problem if students aren’t getting final answers correct. The grades that went into the book were stress-inducing for many of my students.
So, therein lies my conflict. I hope that blogosphere will be willing to chime in to help me.
It could be that I’m too liberal with my use of partial credit. (It has occurred to me to award no more than half-points to a student response that has an incorrect final answer, not sure how I feel about it.)
It could also be that I’m worrying for nothing. (It has occurred to me that if a student can earn 80% of the points on an assignment, perhaps they, in fact, know 80% of the math and so it is an appropriate grade. The 20% they are lacking simply consists of parts that mess up the final answer.)
It could be that this is a problem only because of the difference in assessment styles. I am not a big multiple-choice fan and so I often give constructed response questions.
A quick editorial statement: This all seems to be an issue because our system seems addicted to assigning grades to everything. My favorite solution to this problem would be to eliminate the assigning of point values and grades, but that seems like a long shot at this point…
Thanks for your help everyone.