Answer/Question the Questions/Answers

This is a continuation of last week’s entry on how grading (evalution) can be rendered more efficient. How an assignment is to be graded determines what kinds of questions can be asked. For an instructor graded scenario, anything goes from multiple choice to lab-report format to critical thinking design. If a teaching assistant is going to grade the assignment, the questions need to be tightened up and/or the grading rubric has to be very detailed about what kinds of responses are acceptable. The more mechanical/digital the grading instrument, the tighter the responses have to be – my guess is that this works better with classroom material (OWL, Ace, ect…) than with lab reports. The flip side states that the types of questions posed in the assignment determine the possible modes of evaluation. Questions can be divided into different grading categories: 1) answers that have numerical or precise written answers, 2) critical thinking questions where a particular thought process is desired, 3) critical thinking questions that are meant to provoke reflection but not necessarily a precise answer, 4) questions that require creativity to answer well. The first and second types are relatively easy to grade, once the parameters have been established such as the acceptable format of a numerical answer. The third and fourth categories tend to be questions where I give full credit for any and every thoughtful answer. The third and fourth categories tend to be questions where I am poised to learn from my students, since I am not looking for a particular, pre-determined answer. It seems unfortunate that we almost have to choose between what is most beneficial to students and what is manageable by the instructors.

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