Saturday, October 20, 2012
It was an accident.
I gave my students a take-home quiz, due at the beginning of our next class period. This doesn't happen too often, but it's a nice opportunity for them to score maximum points by working together and carefully comparing notes before submitting their results. With a few exceptions (the handful of students who prefer to keep their work as secret as possible), my students spring at the chance to cooperate and rack up the points.
This time was no exception. However, one student e-mailed me with a concern. “Abe” had transportation issues and was afraid he might be late to class or even miss it entirely. As a precaution, he had scanned his solution to the quiz and attached the image to his message. I wrote back to put him at ease, confirming my receipt of his work, and wishing him good luck in making it to class the next day.
As it turned out, Abe was in class that next morning and handed in the original version of his quiz. I slipped it into my binder along with all of the others. Like the absent-minded professor I am, I quite forgot that I had printed out his scan and already had that in my quiz folder. During my grading session that afternoon, I inadvertently graded Abe's quiz twice, marking up both the original and the scan.
I noticed my oversight while sorting the quizzes into alphabetical order for purposes of entering the scores in my gradebook. I placed the two versions of Abe's quiz side by side and discovered that they were still identical: My red-ink marks on the two quizzes were identically placed, the corrections were a perfect match, and both quizzes bore the exact same score.
Naturally I was pleased. Consistent grading is one of the most important factors in treating students equitably. Here I had evidence that my correction process was rigorously—even rigidly—consistent. I have achieved the gold standard in the potentially capricious and subject process of grading!
Either that, or I'm a robot.