One Teachers Journey Testing Out Ken O’Connor’s A Repair Kit for Grading: 15 Fixes for Broken Grades — Fix 4

Fix 4: don’t punish academic dishonesty with reduced grades; apply other consequences and reassess to determine actual level of achievement.

Ahh cheating.  I think the longer you have been teaching the stronger (or weaker depending on age) your opinion is on this.  My colleague, gentleman in his 50’s, is a very firm believer that cheating results in zero and you have made your bed, now lie in it.  For myself, I agree with Ken and still want to actually measure how much the kid knows, not how bad his decision making is or how desperate he is.  So check off Fix 4: I have never reduced marks when busted academic dishonesty. BUT I do have a confession…

When I prepare my reassessment, I do let emotions get the better of me a little bit.  Firstly, making a new test is a huge undertaking. I spend a lot of time on assignments and tests, I rarely just copy the one from last year or “tweek” the version I saved in the test bank.  So chewing up my precious time to make a new test, when the student didn’t care to take the time to study or pay attention in class does upset me. Also being lied to by a student, to be honest with you, hurts my feelings.  As such I don’t give cheaters zero but I do make my reassessment WAY more difficult than the original test. So I don’t reduce marks, per say, but if it is a strong student helping a weak student I make sure they get a bit of a hit academically, and then also in their work habits mark too.

Does this make me a bad teacher? I found it interesting.  When I was finishing off my BEd we had one final big paper to write.  One of the teacher candidates plagiarized on her paper. Everyone was really shocked, and I’m not sure how my university chose to deal with it.  I’m sure her own guilt and the lack of glowing reference letters was punishment enough.

 

One Comment on “One Teachers Journey Testing Out Ken O’Connor’s A Repair Kit for Grading: 15 Fixes for Broken Grades — Fix 4

  1. Another thoughtful post. It reinforces my view that we should endeavor to find the best ways to assess students and not necessarily the easiest way to assess students. It seems to me that some assessment methods increase the probability of cheating because of the stakes attached to them. For any assessment, I ask myself questions like, “why am I giving this test?” “Is this stuff important?”. As a result of a lot of soul searching and personal experience, I have come to the place of not using tests for the same purpose I once did. They have become tools for students and me to see how they are doing. Essentially, everything is on-going formative assessment. Final assessment involves a student self-assessment and a conference with each and every student (about 100 of them). We talk about what they learned, they present the evidence that they believe supports this. We consider grades based on standard descriptions of their learning and then I assign a final grade. In the end I use the judgement that I would have used to make up a test and instead I use that judgement to determine their grade. It always confused me how so much trust was placed in the mark that someone received on a test–and the level of accuracy that it apparently allowed. But, they don’t allow the same level of trust to the person who makes up the test in the first place. I have regained some ground in this. Instead, I feel like I have established a more open and honest conversation about student performance. I took away the trappings that we often hide behind and I took another look. Now I just say, “show me what you learned”…and often I am totally amazed by what they have uncovered. I provided the spark–they explored their interests–and in most cases they have taught me some amazing new stuff as well.

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