Grading class participation

Following on recent discussions with a couple of people about how we grade participation, I thought I would post my approach, because I get the (possibly inaccurate) impression that it is a little idiosyncratic, and in hopes that it may spark some discussion about others’ approaches and philosophy to participation.

I emphasize participation heavily in my courses and always have, whether teaching first-year writing or a literature survey or a graduate course. I normally weight it at about 20% of the total, as one of the various ways that I incentivize student participation. Since participation both matters significantly to student performance in my courses and is the most nebulous of the various elements that I grade, I have always sought to grade it as objectively as possible. In the interests of not relying purely (or even somewhat) on my feel for a student’s participation, and because I like playing with numbers (yes, I know!), I came up with a system that makes the process much more mechanical and, in my estimation, significantly more efficient than relying simply on my sense of what a student deserves. Here’s how it works: Continue reading

Using an Unlimited Rewrite option (and why you might never want to do so)

(Since we had some discussion during Admin Week about my unlimited rewrite approach, plus a few people asked me for more details subsequently, I thought I’d post some details and thoughts on the subject. Plus, since people are presumably still putting the finishing touches to their syllabi for the Fall semester, perhaps someone else would want to try it out. Anyhow, I’m very interested to hear your thoughts on it and any suggestions you might have for improvement/modification.)

Policy details:

The rewrite policy that I utilize has the following components:

1 – Students can rewrite any and all essays, as many times as they wish, throughout the course of the semester. They are usually limited to doing so until a week before the last day of classes.

2 – A rewrite must be submitted with all changes in a different color (usually blue), to clearly set them apart from the original text.

3 – Rewrites are returned with the same volume of feedback as earlier drafts.

4 – The rewrite grade completely replaces the original grade that the essay received, e.g. a D paper rewritten into a B will count as a B paper for the course. If a rewrite actually makes the grade worse, then I use the original grade.

5 – A late (or other) penalty that the original essay has still applies to any rewrites.

Continue reading