I just finished marking 100 biology tests for my Pre-Health Science (College-Path) students. I feel like I’ve done nothing but write in red pen for 3 days straight. Now I’m exhausted, and filled with conflicting feelings.
There is a part of me that actually enjoys marking. I get to share some success with my students when they do well. I can see some progression in their learning, and compare the detail of their scientific explanations over the duration of the course. Most importantly, though, is that I can collect feedback from most of the students I teach, and I can show my students that I value their opinions.
At the end of every first test, I award 1 bonus mark for answering 2 questions.
- Is there something about the course that you like? Maybe something that has been working well for your learning style?
- Is there something about the course that you dislike? Maybe something that hasn’t worked well for your learning style?
There are no wrong answers. I try to always encourage honesty, yet some students still leave the spaces blank.
I hate marking, not because of the time it takes, but because it hurts to share in students’ failures too. I know my students aren’t mind readers, so I try to stress the important topics every day we are together. If someone misses a 3-hour class, however, it can be challenging to cover an entire textbook chapter completely on ones own. I hate to see an entirely blank question, because I wonder if maybe I missed a vital learning opportunity.
If more than 80% of my class gets a multiple choice question wrong, I deduct that mark from the total. This way I can acknowledge the students who did get it correct (with another bonus mark) and not take away from the vast majority of my class. If 80% of my students didn’t understand, I can’t help but feel like that’s my fault.
I love hearing from other educators, especially about tests. Do you have anything special you do with your tests?