The trade-off between accountability for correctness and effort

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Peregrin5, Sep 29, 2013.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I would like my students to be both correct on their homework, and complete it the day I assign it.

    However the way I check off the homework, it seems like I would be trading either one for the other.

    I currently just check off homework for completeness right now and how much effort was put in initially. I also give points if they complete it later and turn it in if it's the same week.

    However I don't have time to check every single page for correctness, though I would like students to get the correct answers for their homework or at least correct their homework with the correct answers afterwards.

    The only way I can think to do this without giving me tons of hours of new paperwork is to have the students correct their own homework.

    The only problem is that I have tried this in the past, and when I eventually give the answers to the students and allow them to keep the same grade if they had gotten them all wrong to begin with or gotten only a few wrong, they don't really feel the need to complete the homework the day it's due because they can just wait and I will give them the correct answers.

    One way I thought of to combat this problem is to give students quizzes on the homework, about 5 question short quizzes perhaps on problems that I tell them I will quiz on, and then allow their peers to correct their quizzes.

    But I don't think that will keep them accountable for completeness and effort on all homework all the time.

    What do you guys do to keep students accountable for correctness and completeness on homework without giving you a headache with grading?
     
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  3. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    Hmm... What if you didn't accept late work for points but still did everything else? Or date stamp any paper that you've corrected together so anything turned in after that date doesn't get points?
     
  4. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    A math teacher I know gives a quiz at the end of the week that includes homework problems. The students can use their homework to complete the quiz.

    Give homework, which should be for practice and might include incorrect answers. Check for completeness. Go over the homework as you see fit by either going over all problems or asking if there were questions. Provide the answers on-line. At the end of the week select a few problems and have them as part of a quiz.
     
  5. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    What is the purpose of the homework? If it is to reinforce the material then what do you gain by grading for completeness?
     
  6. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Well mainly it's because I would rather that they do it even if it's late than get a zero and not do it because there's no point after that.
     
  7. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    That seems similar to what I do with the reading guides. I give a quiz the day that it's due however, but I'm wondering if I should tell them which problems the quiz will be on? I'm thinking of allowing them to do either odds or evens for practice, but then telling them which ones I will be quizzing them on (the so-called most important problems).
     
  8. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Because students don't practice or reinforce the material if there aren't points for it.
     
  9. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I never gave a hoot about correctness. To me, that's not the purpose of homework. Homework is a time when students have a "safe" place to try new material on their own and mess up without consequence. Too often, when emphasis is placed on correctness, students cheat and copy off each other so they don't mess up their grades. What do they gain from that? Not much.

    With that in mind, my homework policy was the "20 minute rule" They were to spend 20 minutes working on the assignment. If, at the end of that 20 minutes, they still weren't done, they were to write a sentence or two explaining to me what happened. What part of the process did they not understand? Were they able to do the easy problems but had issues generalizing the topic to more complicated problems? Did they just simply not get it and couldn't even follow along with the examples? I did expect to see some sort of effort, even if it was a page with a whole bunch of scratch outs and eraser marks.

    I found that after an initial spat of abuse of a very unfamiliar policy, my students came to really like it, and didn't abuse it at all. My students wound up getting far more out of homework than they ever got, and I rarely got complaints. I found my students were far more willing to admit where they were having trouble. The notes I got were very thoughtful and gave me a lot of feedback for where I might need to reteach and if I needed to do so with a single student, a small group, or the whole class. It gave me insight to holes in background knowledge in a way that a more formal assessment would not have.
     
  10. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    That makes a lot of sense in math I think, but I'm afraid of giving them a score on homework that's not correct and risking them thinking that their incorrect answer is the correct one. In science it's more about did you learn the material and concepts you were supposed to learn? (i.e. that the world is round, or the earth revolves around the sun, etc.) If I don't correct their misunderstandings then they may get it wrong on the summative assessment or continue through the grade without their misconceptions addressed.


    If it's something larger that's important, I will redo a different lesson about it, but if it's something smaller that's not as crucial to my goals but still has the capability of tripping them up later on, I may not have the time in class to go over every misconception, but I would like them to have their misconception corrected superficially at least.
     
  11. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    The thing is they know that the score is for completeness only. It could work in science too. Lets say the question was "what celestial body does the earth revolve around?" The student could say "I looked in my notes, page X in the textbook and on the worksheet you gave us in class and could not find the answer". It lets you know that the student did put in some effort and didn't just blow it off. Getting credit for that encourages the students to keep trying, even if they can't get it right the first time.
     
  12. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    My homework is always to read 1-2 pages in the workbook and answer 5 questions about the material. If they turn it in next class (because I give homework every night), they automatically get 100%. I skim them to make sure students aren't just writing random words, but I don't grade them. Homework is a very small percentage of their final grade and in my mind, they got reinforcement just by reading that page- whether they got the questions correct just isn't as important to me. I want them to spend 15 minutes outside of class, rereading what we learned about in preparation for next class's quiz. This is the easiest way to get it done. :)

    If students don't turn it in on the due date, but turn it in by test day, they get 80%. Any time after that is 50%.
     
  13. fraudelong

    fraudelong Rookie

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    I go around during bellwork and stamp complete work, and then I have them turn it in. If it's something I really want to make sure they practiced/understood, I'll go over it in class after it's been stamped to answer questions. If they try to get me to stamp it after we went over it, I tell them no.

    For me, I think attempting the homework is what's most important. They use it as practice, reflect on what they got wrong, and move on. Correctness is for tests.
     
  14. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Never tell them what questions will be on the quiz. That defeats the purpose of them doing the entire assignment.
     
  15. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    This approach only works if you start with a basic trust of students. :whistle:
     
  16. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I agree wtih mm:)

    As a math teacher, maybe my view is skewed. But I firmly believe that my homework is all about my kids sharpening their skills. It's their opportunity to see problems like the ones they saw 3 or 5 or 8 hours prior in class, and see whether or not they still make sense. Whether or not they can get through the problems without my help.

    If they do get stuck, or make errors, we go through those questions the next day.

    I check for kind-of-completeness only. I walk around the room, looking for those specific problems, and run a highlighter through the problems. Then I have a kid read off his answers, and we go through any problems that anyone disagrees with- because SOMEONE got that one wrong.

    My kids also know that they only have 20 minutes of homework, so if it's not complete, no big deal. Of course, a kid who has done only 2 of 20 problems is expected to be at extra help; otherwise "I didn't understand it" rings kind of hollow.

    I can understand that in other subjects, homework is different. But in math, I can't imagine checking for correctness. it's their one chance to determine whether or not they understand; my quizzes are my chance to determine whether or not they're on track.
     
  17. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I agree with mmswm, but I see where you're coming from Peregrin. I know you also have taken a rather strict approach to expectations (at least last year), so I can see how mmswm's approach may not exactly jive with how you've approached general behavioral expectations.

    To me, the underlying philosophy I agree with that mmswm has expressed is that it's a safe place to practice. If your expectation is that homework should be accurate, what's the point of homework? In other words, if the expectation is that - by the time they've left the classroom - they've already mastered the material sufficient enough to accurate and independently complete the work, homework is overkill.

    Still, I think your point is that if a student isn't motivated to attempt homework and knows that s/he will never be held accountable for accuracy, there may be little motivation to improve.

    I guess my initial & general response to that is that strict expectations and detailed oversight of behavior and academic work can disincentivize independent production. I remember a similar discussion last year with behavioral expectations and effect on independent or self-governed behavior. The approach mmswm suggested still gives lays down an expectation, but builds in a degree of flexibility for the student and trust that they will approach homework in the most efficient way. Trust given often translates into responsibility taken. Trust taken often translates into a feeling of resentment and attempt to circumvent authority.

    Another option - perhaps that could be used in addition with mmswm's approach - would be to somehow review homework, but not reduce grade for less complete accuracy. This would make it so that - generally - kids realized their would be reviewed, but wouldn't feel the pressure to be perfectly right because accuracy wasn't part of the grade.

    You could also try mixing a general, low level of accuracy into your definition of "effort." If you quickly glanced through homework and had the sense that a student performed much lower on homework that they demonstrate in class, you could address that on an individual level.

    A time saving strategy - if you wanted to review for accuracy either for a grade or not - is to let students know that you'll be arbitrarily selecting 5 students to grade/review each day. That way there will always be a chance of getting graded (and thus the motivation to prepare) but without the demand on you to grade everything everyday. Likewise, you could always say you'll select 2 problems from each student's worksheet to grade, but selected at random.

    A final thought is that I might consider making changes based on how broad the issue is that you're facing. If homework effort is generally not a problem (but is for 2 or 3 students) that might warrant more individual problem-solving, compared with a classwide issue.
     
  18. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    I have struggled with this for years. I absolutely see that in some subjects homework is solely a place for practicing new content and skills and learning a process, included in which is making mistakes. I can absolutely see how a student could struggle through a set of math problems and not nearly receive close to a passing grade. I also see how students could be completely thrown off by a particular question and hence there should be some sort of mechanism to allow students to show that they grappled with the problem and came up empty.

    However, in my discipline (history) I have a little less sympathy.
    Though I assign though provoking, critical thinking type questions the nature of history requires a mastery of the facts: the who, what, when, and where.

    When I assign text reading it usually is accompanied with read questions and terms to define along with some sort of critical thinking and application type-questions or tasks (i.e. mini-essays or projects). I feel obliged to grade the factual recall questions for accuracy regardless. How can I really give credit to a student for completion, when all the answers requires is them looking in the reading. I always tell them that if they really have trouble finding what they think the answer is to explain why they are having trouble and to give me a guess of some sorts. I just cannot rationalize giving student a 100% on an assignment in which incorrect answers are given to questions like, "What is the Marshal Plan? What was its objectives and how did it seek to meet them?" when the answers are in the reading (which even in my AP classes is never more than 25 pages for an assignment; in most classes its more like 5-10!) If students show no semblance of accuracy, how can I any sort of credit?

    Often times I break up the questions so that the factual based questions come before our class discussion/lecture and the critical thinking questions (that require a more thorough understanding of the facts) come afterwards. These type of assignments, for instance, would ask my European History students to "Briefly evaluate the effectiveness of the Marshall Plan. What were its strengths and its weakness? How could it be more effective? Pay close attention to the events it caused (or failed to cause)." When I assign such critical thinking tasks/assignments I often times grade them for completion, or a mix of completion and accuracy, when it is introducing a new skill or content. In my advanced classes, I do however also tend to grade these for accuracy and content. I harp on critical thinking skills over and over again, that this is something that must be done individually, and therefore feel the need to evaluate them on this.
     
  19. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Good point about the individual vs. whole class issue.

    I don't mean to say that the students should have it 100% down by the time they leave class, or that it should be 100% correct. But I do want them to get the correct answers at SOME point.

    Mainly I don't want them to get an incorrect answer and never correct it to the right one.

    But I notice that when I correct homework with them, and give them the same score many will choose not to do it until we correct it as a class. It's kind of like now, that I go over the kick-off at the beginning of the day, many will wait to write it once I've given the answer.

    That's my problem.
     
  20. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    "That's my problem."
    Nope. That's THEIR problem. THEY are not doing the work ahead of time, so THEY are not getting the benefit of going over it the next day with you.
    It's THEIR problem.
     
  21. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    How would that work though? I would still be going over the work and they can still write in the answers.
     
  22. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I think CindyBlue means that ultimately they "own" the problem as it will hurt them in their educational attainment, not you (except that it would reflect poorly on you if you didn't learn the material).

    Yeah, if you can't collect it at the beginning because you want to go over it, and don't want to check it briefly before going over it, I guess you're stuck with the possibility of kids just changing their answers, which probably brings you back to mmswm's suggestion of not trying to enforce accuracy because it can cause secondary problems. Only other idea coming to mind would be to still go over problems but collect the work and just let them watch you do the problem, or work it out with you, but then they can't reference what they did. Another thought is collecting it 1 out of 5 days randomly, and going over it the other.

    I still see your issue, and can even see myself not really doing the homework if I knew I could just fill in the blanks as the teacher was going over it :). Even though we'd all love students to take responsibility for their education, at the end of the day some may just not want to do the problems, and having those external consequences could be beneficial.
     
  23. fraudelong

    fraudelong Rookie

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    Seriously, I had this problem last year. Having the kids have their work out for me to come around and stamp that they did it solved this problem. You didn't even attempt it? No stamp. Then, if they follow in class and clearly corrected mistakes, I *MAY* give them half credit. But they don't know that.
     

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