In a post about the value of teaching Newton’s 3rd Law from the get go, Greg Jacobs discusses how he deals with possibly accomplished students who complain having to label forces a certain way, which may seem laborious to students who “get it”.
So when the bright kid says, “Mr. Lipshutz, I know this, why are you making me waste my time writing silly extra words on my homework,” how do I react? I start by wondering why it’s such a big deal — if he knows what to write, why is it so horrible to take a moment to prove that to me? I might appeal to the idea that I want all of our problems to look similar, so that the class can help each other more easily. I might be transparent about my pedagogy, giving an impromptu Newton’s third law lecture to show the benefit.In the end, if the student pushes my patience, the answer is, “Because you’ll lose points if you don’t. You may drop the class if you think this requirement is overly onerous.
I think the issue here for me is that such a response represents to me a subtle confusion among three things: evidence of understanding, evidence of misunderstanding, and lack of evidence for either. And I think this is where standards-based grading may come to the rescue. In a grading system where you take away points, evidence of misunderstanding and lack of evidence for understanding are both punishable offenses. Standards-based grading, however, focuses our attention to confirming evidence of understanding.
I was trying to think about what Kelly O’Shea might do in this grading predicament. Kelly, I think, would grade such a skill with a “-“, meaning that the student work provides no meaningful data concerning this students’ understanding of the skill or concept. The students isn’t punished for not labeling things the way you want them to; they simply can’t be given credit for understanding things for which they have provided no evidence. Maybe they will show that evidence later by labeling forces the way you want; or maybe they will show you evidence of understanding in a different way.
What do you all think?
What Jason Thinks: http://alwaysformative.blogspot.com/2012/06/burden-of-proof.html