Grading is one of the most challenging parts of teaching. This is even more complicated when you want to be fair and objective, but the quality of the work submitted is so uneven. The best way to solve that is to use a standard rubric for assessing writing assignments/final papers. According to Wikipedia: “In education terminology, rubric means “a scoring guide used to evaluate the quality of students’ constructed responses”. Rubrics usually contain evaluative criteria, quality definitions for those criteria at particular levels of achievement, and a scoring strategy.”
There are several ways to construct a rubric, but doing so can seem overwhelming and time-consuming. So, I’ve built you a rubric that is extremely easy to use. You can find it at this LINK.
The Directions for using the Rubric are on one of the tabs of the file you will find on blazenet. If you are inquiring from outside of Belhaven’s system, send me a request at firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep in mind that the criteria language on the rubric are not original, nor do I have any idea where it originated.
Here are the Directions:
Review rubric and tweak as necessary, including adding course name and number along with the points for the assignment.
Save the blank rubric as a .pdf and attach to an announcement to students indicating that the rubric will be used to grade the assignment.
When grading the assignment, open the rubric in Excel and enter the appropriate number in the Faculty Score column. If you have entered the total points for the assignment, the spreadsheet will calculate the final points.
Save the completed rubric as a pdf for each student
Upload to the assignment under Speedgrader (at the bottom of the right column) – under comments. Add a comment letting the student know there is a grading rubric attached along with any other comments desired.
Repeat for each student
I want to encourage you to give this a try. Once your students get over the shock, they will perform better and you will have a better ability to communicate more objectively and evenly.
When these two concepts intersect, powerful learning can occur. However, for there to even be an intersection, the Instructor must accept a few basic premises:
That student learning is different than teaching. I have heard it said that “teaching is an art.” I can believe that, but what makes it an art is whether or not learning occurs. Teaching experiences designed without consideration of how or even if it impacts student learning are empty experiences, which can be equally frustrating for Instructor and student.
That adults learn differently than traditional age college students. Because of their life experiences the studies show they are better at synthesizing material, particularly if it is presented in a way that allows them to grasp relevance.
That there is more than one way to “skin a cat” as my Mom used to say, i.e. there are other ways to teach besides lecture.
Finally, that there are some things about any subject which are more important than others and which are crucial to mastery of the whole (this is the irreducible minimum c.f. The Seven Laws of the Learner by Bruce Wilkinson).
When these premises are accepted, the Instructor can look at the material to be covered for the class session and, because of experience and education, determine which topics are crucial. With that knowledge, it is easy to arrange the class session to focus on the crucial topics first, before moving on to the other topics, which are still important but don’t qualify as crucial.
Once the irreducible minimum has been identified, now comes the choice of how to present the material, i.e. what learning strategies will you employ to insure these crucial topics are not just taught but learned. While those activities include lecture, it is probably the most over used and least effective technique employed by Instructors. There are other articles in this blog which talk about collaborative learning activities and any search engine will turn up hundreds if not thousands of ideas, so I won’t include those in this blog post. Suffice it to say, to contemplate what it will take to achieve student learning will require more time and energy as well as some creativity. It will mean becoming comfortable with a certain amount of creative chaos in the classroom, something may Instructors find uncomfortable. On the plus side, this intersection of Irreducible Minimum and Collaborative Learning Strategy will dramatically improve the learning of the students in your class and may have an unexpected consequence of re-invigorating you love for the “art” of teaching.
Incorporating collaborative classroom activities which are both instructive and engaging can be challenging. One way to do that is to use an activity similar to the one I describe below.
I use an RSS feed to pull together posts from various blogs across the internet that I find interesting. One of those is from Lolly Daskal. She usually posts interesting material, but it is often light on application. One of her more recent posts was titled: 10 Vital Traits to Look for in People You Hire. As you can imagine, the points she lists are accurate but too shallow to make an application. As a classroom activity, however, I could use this list in a couple of ways:
I could emphasize the importance to setting up an RSS feed (I use Bloglovin but there are many which do the same thing and almost all are free) and to pull together some favorite blogs for collection. This promotes self-development and ongoing-learning, a skill that will be vital for everyone in the days ahead. Check out this post about these feeders.
I would use a specific post like the one above and parcel it out to groups in the class and ask them to explain how to determine whether or not a trait exists in a job candidate. For instance, one of her 10 vital traits was that the individual must have a growth mindset. You may be aware of the book Mindset in which Carol Dweck explains the virtues of the growth mindset and the differences and advantages over the fixed mindset (excellent book and I highly recommend it). I would challenge the group with this assignment to find out about the growth mindset, if they don’t already know, and then determine ways in an interview to discover if the candidate had a growth mindset.
Alternately, you could post large pages of paper around the room and list the 10 traits on per page and have the groups rotate from page to page every couple of minutes adding their thoughts to how to find out if that trait is present.
There are a LOT of good resources available to draw upon to enrich your class and engage your students. If you would like to know more or have questions, please contact me (email@example.com) or Dr, Kim Priesmeyer, Dean of the Center for Teaching and Learning (firstname.lastname@example.org).
You probably are already aware that you have access to a powerful video conference tool from inside Canvas, titled Zoom. I’ve included a picture of the link. Zoom is very easy to use and intuitive, meaning that you should be able to use it with only a little trial and error. Below I’m going to discuss Why you might want to use Zoom, and How to set it up and use it.
I’m going to list several scenarios in which you might benefit from using Zoom:
As “office hour(s)” – Designate a time each week when you know you’ll be at your computer and start a zoom conference, posting the link in an announcement on the course-site in Canvas. One of the things I love about Zoom is that if
you minimize it, a small window stays active in the upper corner of your screen and you can easily see if anyone joins the conference and you can maximize Zoom. You can also post an announcement that “Office hours” are by appointment and set up your Zoom specific to any student who schedules an appointment
To record a presentation or tutorial. Zoom is perfect for recording a presentation or tutorial of some computer application. Whatever you can see on your desktop can be shown through Zoom and recorded and made available to students. This might be particularly useful for some of the trickier formulas or math related problems.
To set up an optional (strictly voluntary) class meeting relative to a specific event, e.g. you could set up a Zoom to discuss political debates following the debates while everyone is still fresh.
To bring in a guest lecturer to your class session. While you would still need to let the Dean know and get approval, this is a perfect way to bring someone into your class that you know can bring some specialized knowledge or a powerful story to connect with your students. This way your guest could be literally anywhere in the world and still present in your classroom.
These are only a few ideas, but I’m sure you are getting the idea.
Starting a Zoom is very easy, all you will need is your Belhaven login and password. Once you click on the Zoom link you will want to “Host” a meeting after you enter your credentials. To invite others, either email them the link or post the link in an announcement on your course site. I’ve included a video below which walks you through the process.
Many of the courses in the Adult Studies Programs for Belhaven University include a Team Project. The inclusion of the Team Project is valuable on many fronts: It provides the opportunity to learn to work together, maximizes group resources, allows for synergistic achievement, just to mention a few. It is also one of the most frustrating experiences for many students who complain about “freeloaders” who don’t do the work and either drag everyone’s grade down or force others to carry the extra load, often without the Instructor noticing or seeming to care.
The best solution to this and one which falls in line with our goals and mission is the Team Project Charter. Unfortunately, it is often ignored because it takes time to work out and many Instructors and even team members fail to see the value, wanting to jump straight into the project. This is almost always a mistake leading inevitably to the complaints mentioned above.
The Team Project Covenant is important because it outlines the basic expectations and is signed by each member of the team. The basic parts include:
Group goals and/or purpose.
Planned meeting time, place, and agenda.
Clearly understood attendance requirements and penalties for absences.
Discussion of responsibilities of members within teams.
Discussion plan for meetings.
Conflict management and resolution, penalties for constitutional covenant breaches, and plan for constitutional covenant changes.
When these items are spelled out it is much easier to pull the document back out at the beginning of a Team meeting and address any problems and the potential penalties for covenant breaches. It empowers teams to function smoothly and to stay focused, while avoiding freeloading.
There is an example of the Team Project Covenant on Blazenet under Student Live/Services – you can find it HERE (you must have a Belhaven login to access this document).
If you haven’t wanted to take time for this in the past, I strongly encourage you to make time going forward. It will provide a better experience for the students, less frustration and grousing for you to deal with, and, more importantly, allows students to see how to deal with situations if a positive format that they can use in the future.
I posted the material below to the Adult Learner Blog but I thought you would like to see it as well. If you use this process you can hopefully cut down on the problems which arise from team projects. Note the italicized comments which were not included in the post the Adult Learner Blog.
Team Projects are often the most dreaded part of a course. While not all our courses include a Team Project, there are still several which do. So, the question is, “What can I do, personally, to make the team experience a positive one (and also get a good grade)?” I’m glad you asked. Here are several ideas for improving the outcome of your team project:
Make sure you complete the Team Covenant the first meeting of your team. This can be found on Blazenet under StudentLife/Services in the Documents. While completing this may take a few minutes, the value comes in having everyone on the same page – especially when it seems like some in the group are dropping the ball. Calling out those who aren’t complying with the Covenant expectations may be necessary, but it is much easier if the Covenant exists. If you make time for this in the first or second class session it can help the whole group succeed.
Make sure everyone has a copy of the Team Evaluation rubric. This can be found in the same place on Blazenet. The important thing here is to make clear to everyone up front that you are going to be brutally honest in completing this form at the end of the project. Help the students understand that you are going to pay attention to these evaluations.
Do your best to stay engaged in the Project, completing the expectations assigned to you. Don’t hesitate to check in with other team members on their progress.
I HIGHLY recommend you use either a Google Doc and/or Google Slides for your project and include the Instructor. Both of these are free, and it can easily be determined who contributed and how much they contributed. The team leader should start the Document/Slides and then share it with the rest of the team members. That way you can all work from different locations at the same time on the same presentation or document. Both also have chat capabilities built in so you can “talk” in real time about the project.
You may not have tried it before, but Canvas has a Zoom link on the left panel which can be used for video conferencing and screen sharing. This means you don’t have to set up another time to get together, you can video conference. This is a simple product and it works great – you can also record the session to further prove who participated and who didn’t. Just identify who will be setting up the meetings.
Team projects, when done effectively, can enhance your knowledge and skills. If you incorporate group software like I describe above it can also make you more valuable at work.
Poll Everywhere is a web-based tool which easily builds into powerpoint presentations to allow students to respond from their mobile devices. It presents the results in real time, allowing for evaluation of knowledge, or as a prompt for discussion.
Here is a short video which demonstrates it’s use.
Using Polleverywhere is relatively simple and can definitely liven up a presentation. It also allows individuals who rarely speak in class to contribute in a low threat environment. Using this type of tool makes the discussion more relevant and students experience a greater sense of understanding the material
The video above describes the process pretty clearly, but here is an article which also goes into detail about how to use Poll Everywhere:
I was reviewing some of the videos available through Mentor Commons to find one I thought you would find helpful and I ran across this one. It is about 18 minutes and I definitely think you will find something useful here.
by Dr. Paul Criss, Dean of Belhaven – Memphis/DeSoto
This was presented as a live webinar. The recording can viewed HERE
Hopeful GRIT is an introduction to Angela Duckworth’s work on GRIT and Ray Johnston’s work on Hope Quotient with the intent of applying principles in the classroom to improve student retention and overall performance.
Eighty Four percent of students want faculty who will be concerned about them as a person and their success. Hopeful GRIT is a model of how to help students build their perseverance muscles and improve their academic performance. Angela Duckworth conducted studies involving National Spelling Bee champions, elite military trained graduates, and top corporate sales people to determine if the secret to their success was talent or effort. The science showed that GRIT – the sustained application of effort towards a long-term goal, is the biggest predictor of lifelong achievement. GRIT can grow by helping students identify their interests, improve the quality of their practice, connect their work to their purpose, and finally create a sense of hope through the entire journey.
Hope liberates by releasing us from past mistakes. Hope motivates by helping us bounce back. Hope initiates by setting us free to dream. Hope actives by providing the fuel needed to make the world a better place. Hope is the greatest gift we can give and grow in our students. Ray Johnston says that hope is “a state of being God creates in you.” He encourages the building of seven hope-building factors in our life. I want to emphasize the third one: refocusing on the future by asking “what can this become?” Jesus did this when he called the disciples saying, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17 NASB). Jesus was not focused on what people were like; he was focused on what they could become. Are we seeing our students and their work through this same lens: what can they become?
Five years ago, the retention rate in our graduate business program at the Memphis campus was 67 percent. We changed the way we taught the program’s gateway course and attempted to be more intentional about motivation by incorporating mini-lectures on grit, hope, dreaming, and addressing thoughts that had the potential to sabotage a student’s success. We have seen some good results in that by 2016 the retention rate increased to 82 percent and in 2017 it was up to 90%.
Some points of reflection for you consider might be 1) how can we develop and strengthen GRIT in our students? 2) how can we become better purveyors of hope to inspire students? 3) how can this be accomplished in various teaching venues: on-ground or online? Hopefully, you can see the value of encouraging students, developing their perseverance muscles, and helping them persist until they reach the goal set before them in their academic studies. The PDF at this LINK provides the entire presentation and may help spark some more ideas to this end.
I’m passing this article on because I think there is some good information here for us. This is always like walking a tightrope and yet if we don’t address it, the educational quality for our students suffer. RLU
Joseph W. Trefzger PhD
For two decades I have taught 150- to 200-student sections of introductory financial management to majors in all business programs, plus business minors from diverse fields. Although the course has its fans—some even change their majors to finance each semester—many students find the material daunting, become distracted, and behave in ways that impede the learning of others along with their own. Distractions always have lurked in college classrooms; texters and Web surfers are merely the note passers and campus newspaper readers of the digital age.