A New Type of “Curve” on Exams

I’m trying a new wrinkle in my intro course this semester. I got the idea from Brad Hansen, my department chair. I don’t know exactly what he does, since I’ve gleaned this idea from the grapevine, so any credit for this wrinkle should go to him, while any blame is my own.

I handed back the first exam today. The class scored very well with the average grade a B-. This was not unexpected since the exam covers a lot of material which is review from the first semester. I tell students this is the easiest exam they’ll take from me all year. Despite this success, though, not every student did well.

I decided to try something a bit metacognitive to make exams more of a learning experience. I handed back the exam with the correct answers marked. I then told students that if they reviewed the correct answers and explained to me why they were correct, I would raise their exam grade by half a point for every correct explanation they submitted before Friday.

[Edit: That is, they could get points for every question they got wrong on the exam, but could explain correctly afterwards.]

I’ve never tried this kind of ‘do over’ before, so it will be interesting to see how it works. The remaining exams in the course will be substantially more difficult so I don’t think I’ll be giving away the farm with this curving mechanism. And if it helps them learn the concepts better for the final exam, it will be worth it.

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2 Responses to A New Type of “Curve” on Exams

  1. Gardner says:

    Fascinating idea. I’ll have to mull this one over. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Pingback: Pedablogy: Musings on the Art & Craft of Teaching » Blog Archive » More on the ‘Do over’

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