# Case against zero

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by MikeTeachesMath, Oct 13, 2012.

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1. ### orangeteaConnoisseur

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Oct 14, 2012

I could see it working if each question or concept was graded on a four-point scale, but I'm not sure how an entire math test would be graded on this scale. I think it works much better for writing assignments.

2. ### Caesar753Multitudinous

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Oct 14, 2012

I think that it would be very easy to divide a math test into chunks focusing on particular skills or concepts.

3. ### BumbleBHabitué

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Oct 14, 2012

Yes, I see that issue too. Maybe the number grade depends on how many questions you miss? Or, probably even better, the test is broken up into standards, and however many problems you miss per standard is what grade you get for that standard.

I feel like I just said "standard" about six times...hopefully that made sense!

4. ### JustMeVirtuoso

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Oct 14, 2012

Let's say there is an assessment consisting of twelve questions. I think most of the teachers did something similar to this.

One, two, or three correct: one
Four, five, or six correct: two
Seven, eight, or nine correct: three
Ten, eleven, twelve correct: four

5. ### orangeteaConnoisseur

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Oct 14, 2012

It would allow students to get more credit than I want them to or less credit than I want them to.

For example, if a student misses a negative sign and gets the wrong answer because of that, I will deduct one point. A 4-point scale would make me give this student a 4 because he understood the standard, just made a mathematical error. Giving him a 3 would obviously be unfair, but giving him a 4 would be generous.

Or let's say a student memorized a trig identity incorrectly and got a problem wrong. I would probably deduct 2 points. But if he got every other problem with that concept correct, then what would I give him? Giving him a 4 would give him full credit and giving him a 3 wouldn't be enough credit.

I would have a problem figuring out which grade to give. I don't see many benefits of using a four-point system in math.

6. ### orangeteaConnoisseur

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Oct 14, 2012

What about partial credit?

I think the process is just as important, or even more important than the answer itself.

7. ### Caesar753Multitudinous

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Oct 14, 2012

You'd just need a clear rubric that addresses these things, including the issue of partial credit.

8. ### Caesar753Multitudinous

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Oct 14, 2012

My school used to require the use of a 0-4 point scale. (New administration has recently required that we all return to percentages.)

I found the 0-4 point scale to be very useful. When I grade a student's translation (I teach a writing-heavy foreign language), it's very obvious to me whether the student gets it, is close to understanding it but still makes a few glaring errors, doesn't really seem to have a clue what's going on. Rather than nitpick about a million little things, I would give a general, overall score of 0-4. Students understood it, because I provided them with a clear, objective rubric outlining exactly what each score meant. I found that students understood it better than the percentage system because they could see the difference between a 3 and a 4 much more easily than they could see the difference between 87 and 92.

9. ### ShanooHabitué

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Oct 14, 2012

That's exactly what we do. I gave a test the other day...6 standards (we call them outcomes) were on the test. My students got 6 different grades - one for each outcome.

10. ### ShanooHabitué

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Oct 14, 2012

It is a very subjective way to assess, but then I guess all types of assessment are somewhat subjective, in a way.

I gave my students a test on the Pythagorean relationship the other day. I assessed a number of outcomes (standards). One was on their understanding of the Pythagorean relationship. Another was on their understanding of exponents. One question had the student solve for the side of a right triangle. The student set the question up properly, and did all of the steps properly, but when solving the problem, she calculated 4^2 as 8. So, for that question, the student got an A (or a 4 on the 4 point scale) for the outcome dealing with the Pythagorean relationship because she showed me that the understands what it means and how to use it, but a B (or a 3) on the outcome dealing with exponents.

It's not so much a matter of counting up how much they get right and get wrong. It's more along the lines of how much do they understand. Can you say that they have mastery in that outcome or not?

11. ### JustMeVirtuoso

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Oct 14, 2012

You could still give partial credit...but in the end, you'd have to determine and be able to say whether the student OVERALL has mastered the content or not. I love that a student can miss one question and still get "full credit" because if they got it right all but one time, they "got it".

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Oct 14, 2012

I don't understand why a student deserves points if he/she chose not to do the work. Of course it screws up the average; that's the consequence of poor choices. No work = no points. That's a real world application.

"Hah, I ain't doing that!" Fine. Life is full of choices, but life is also full of consequences. Buffering those consequences for a student who actively chose not to work does him/her no favors. It creates an entitled kid who comes to college and expects paper and pens to be furnished, and whose mommy calls the professor in the evening and wants to know why he/she has a 42% at midterms.

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Oct 15, 2012

I've actually only had it happen once on all the assignments and tests I've given so far. Normally, the kids just leave a problem blank if they think it is too hard. Since the one student wrote "IDK", that told me she at least tried to figure the problem out, but couldn't. Also, the one question didn't affect her overall grade significantly. If a student wrote "IDK" on multiple questions, then I would reteach the material and have them take the test again or maybe offer tutoring to the individual student.

I agree completely.

14. ### TamaraFCompanion

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Oct 15, 2012

I realize I am old fashioned in my marking. I give 0's, and I don't even feel bad for it. A students always has the chance to come back and redo (or hand in for the first time!) an assignment they have a zero for. But I tell my students (and their parents) that in the real world, if you don't do the work you don't get the reward. If I don't show up for work, I get \$0 pay. If they don't do their work, they get 0%.

15. ### Peregrin5Maven

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Oct 15, 2012

In a specific class for a specific year, yes Mr. Talker would succeed, but I am obviously talking about the long-run.

16. ### mollydollConnoisseur

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Oct 15, 2012

The unknown with Mr. Talker is how important learning is to him.

Smart people hate wasting time and being bored. How do you learn study skills when there is nothing to study?

Many of these students will step up in college when they are finally challenged. If they are lazy and/or academically disinterested, they won't.

17. ### KateLHabitué

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Oct 15, 2012

Agreed. For most of K-12, I was not challenged in class. I still did all the work because I was a teacher-pleaser, but I certainly didn't have to do the work to pass the tests, and I didn't study at all. I didn't have to study until I hit AP science classes in high school, and then classes in college. I learned the study skills when I needed them. The Mr. and Ms. Talkers in our classes aren't going to see the need for study skills if the work is easy, and at that age, they might not believe that the work will ever be harder. If they can pass the tests easily, they should earn an A in the class, or a B at the minimum.

18. ### catnfiddleModerator

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Oct 15, 2012

For distance learning, everything is homework. It's a matter of how I weigh the assignment in my grade book. Our quizzes are in two parts, auto-graded multiple choice and short answer written response. The multiple choice portion is weighted a 1.0 and the short answer is 2.0. The student who only does the multiple choice portion (and this happens a lot) may look like he or she has completed 1/2 of the assignments, but only 1/3 of the possible credit has been awarded.

19. ### Peregrin5Maven

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Oct 15, 2012

I disagree. They may be perfectly academically interested but completely unaware of the strategies they need to succeed, as I was in college.

By the time I hit my wall, I was in my upper years of college, and I was surrounded by so many students who utilized bad study habits that I didn't even know there was another way or strategies to studying. I knew to take notes but not how. I knew I needed better time management, but no one had taught me how to manage my time. I looked everywhere for answers, but they simply weren't clear enough. I think you are putting your students at a disadvantage and causing harm to them by not emphasizing study skills in school.