mkl654321
mkl654321
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February 6th, 2011 at 2:15:33 PM permalink
I frequently give unannounced multiple-choice pop quizzes to see if my students have done the assigned reading. (Usually, about half of them haven't.) I was wondering if I might want to differentiate between those students who hadn't done it at all, and those who had done it hurriedly, while making Facebook comments or watching TV, and/or simply not remembering the answer to a given question. To that end, I've been thinking about giving 1/2 credit to those who choose the "least wrong" answer. For example:

Q: In "Zombie Cheerleaders From Neptune", Griselda is killed by a:

a) Bear
b) Lion
c) Tiger
d) Tarantula
e) Walnut
f) Zombie cheerleader

Now, let's say the correct answer is c). Should I give 1/2 credit for answering b)? In general, do you think an "almost correct" answer on a multiple-choice exam should count for anything, or should it be scored the same as all other wrong answers?

I've asked my fellow teachers, and the consensus seems to be not just "no", but "hell, no". Wondering what you folks think.
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DJTeddyBear
DJTeddyBear
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February 6th, 2011 at 2:21:32 PM permalink
HELL NO!

Then again, "Zombie Cheerleaders From Neptune" . . . ?


Just what the heck is the class you're teaching?
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pokerface
pokerface
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February 6th, 2011 at 2:33:25 PM permalink
I would agree to give 1/2 credit for an almost correct answer
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mkl654321
mkl654321
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February 6th, 2011 at 5:09:19 PM permalink
Quote: DJTeddyBear

HELL NO!

Then again, "Zombie Cheerleaders From Neptune" . . . ?


Just what the heck is the class you're teaching?



American Literature.
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.---George Bernard Shaw
Toes14
Toes14
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February 6th, 2011 at 5:51:51 PM permalink
I vote for Hell No. By giving half credit to the ones who half-asses their studying, you are actually diminishing the reward for the ones who did a good job of studying! Maybe them getting a bad score early in the semester will give them incentive to try harder in the future, whereas giving them half credit might give them the impression that they can skate by on minimal effort.

On a side note, if you are FREQUENTLY giving pop quizzes, the students could be on to your scheme, especially if they are multiple choice. I hope you don't use the exact same quiz for all of your classes, because if you do, those kids who have you later in the day will have an advantage. Their friends who have you for first hour will tell them about the pop quiz, and they'll be ready for it, or maybe even get the right answers from their friends.

To be the most effective, I'd suggest throwing in some fill in the blank questions, and some short answer questions. (I know, it takes longer to grade than multiple choice, but that's a trade-off you'll have to make.)
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rxwine
rxwine
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February 6th, 2011 at 6:09:45 PM permalink
You should give half credit for an answer that would have been correct on a previous assignment. (Proving that there is still value in past reading too- making it clear that not doing the reading assignments can bite you again)
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rxwine
rxwine
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February 6th, 2011 at 6:11:29 PM permalink
...of course, that would be really difficult to have them both be correct for the same question.
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mkl654321
mkl654321
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February 6th, 2011 at 8:20:53 PM permalink
Quote: Toes14

I vote for Hell No. By giving half credit to the ones who half-asses their studying, you are actually diminishing the reward for the ones who did a good job of studying! Maybe them getting a bad score early in the semester will give them incentive to try harder in the future, whereas giving them half credit might give them the impression that they can skate by on minimal effort.

On a side note, if you are FREQUENTLY giving pop quizzes, the students could be on to your scheme, especially if they are multiple choice. I hope you don't use the exact same quiz for all of your classes, because if you do, those kids who have you later in the day will have an advantage. Their friends who have you for first hour will tell them about the pop quiz, and they'll be ready for it, or maybe even get the right answers from their friends.

To be the most effective, I'd suggest throwing in some fill in the blank questions, and some short answer questions. (I know, it takes longer to grade than multiple choice, but that's a trade-off you'll have to make.)



1. I grade on absolute, not relative performance (i.e., I don't grade on the curve), so the high-performing students aren't hurt by my giving some (more) credit to the middling-performing ones.

2. No two classes I teach are the same, so that's not a danger. Though in past years, I have taught the same class in multiple periods, and then I shuffled the order of things enough so that no one who had taken one class would be much help to someone who was taking the other.

3. I do use the other kinds of questions you mentioned, but the real problem is the time constraint, as in, the length of the class period. Fill in the blank and short answer questions take longer to answer, so I'd have to give the students more time, which means less class time after the quiz. A decently constructed multiple-choice tells me pretty accurately who's doing the reading and who isn't, which is my primary goal (I can't really tell simply by who raises their hand in class discussion--some students never say anything in class, but they do all of the assigned work.)
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.---George Bernard Shaw
Doc
Doc
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February 6th, 2011 at 8:27:00 PM permalink
I stopped giving True/False and Multiple Guess questions when I found that students were averaging worse than 50% on T/F and worse than 100% divided by the number of options on Multiple Guess. I figured I must have been making the questions too difficult for those formats.

I taught problem-oriented courses, so after I gave up on T/F/Guess, the tests simply required short problems to be solved. For American lit, I would expect subjectively-graded essay questions, but that can be a pain for both student and teacher. If you actually feel the need for Multiple Guess, I would suggest selecting/wording questions so that there is no uncertainty at all on the part of students who have done the assignment and giving no credit at all for any other answers. Expect a bimodal grade distribution, with student scores clustered near 100% and around 100% divided by the number of options.
mkl654321
mkl654321
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February 6th, 2011 at 9:22:55 PM permalink
Quote: Doc

I stopped giving True/False and Multiple Guess questions when I found that students were averaging worse than 50% on T/F and worse than 100% divided by the number of options on Multiple Guess. I figured I must have been making the questions too difficult for those formats.

I taught problem-oriented courses, so after I gave up on T/F/Guess, the tests simply required short problems to be solved. For American lit, I would expect subjectively-graded essay questions, but that can be a pain for both student and teacher. If you actually feel the need for Multiple Guess, I would suggest selecting/wording questions so that there is no uncertainty at all on the part of students who have done the assignment and giving no credit at all for any other answers. Expect a bimodal grade distribution, with student scores clustered near 100% and around 100% divided by the number of options.



I don't like T/F quizzes because the bottom grade should be 50%--what you score if you just plain guess every question. There's also a strong randomizing element in that someone who has either a good or a bad guessing day could get a score that is not at all reflective of his preparation. At least with five or six multiple choices, it's less likely that someone will get a question right by sheer luck. Also, a T/F doesn't have the potential for a "half-right" answer, which is what I was exploring.

If your students were scoring BELOW 50% on T/F, it means they were scoring lower than if your test had been written in Chinese, which suggests that not only were your questions difficult, they were misleading.
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.---George Bernard Shaw

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