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Grading Codes For HW and Tests

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on February 19, 2014 at 11:06:48 pm

New codes: "N" and "CC" added by Jason Osheroff/Alan Peel 2/19/14

When students make mistakes, they routinely make categorical ones with rare exceptions. Even in this active learning situation where the questions are challenging and apparently unique (compare to, say, standard 20th century physics instruction), the students' mistakes are predictable. This presents an opportunity to speed up the grading process by a large factor.


When grading a problem where the student trips over units, for instance, it should suffice to write "U" on the side, deduct whatever points you feel reflect the severity of the mistake and move on. Do not waste time writing "your units are off here" or "units wrong" or even "units." It is UP TO THE STUDENT to figure out where they were derailed, not you (though you can nudge them in office hours if they really can't figure it out).


In order for this to work, a universal code should be used and accessible to the graders and the students alike. One can even generate unique codes for specific assignments, but beware code proliferation (which starts to waste your and the students' time again) and avoid "symbolosis": using the same letter for two totally different kinds of mistakes.


Here, then, is a list of "Universal Grading Codes" which can be used right away. We expect the list may morph and grow, but new universal codes should probably be brought up at meetings, not decided on unilaterally.


Universal Grading Codes
A all correct (useful in case you have to go back and don't want to have to grade it again!)
B Blank - always worth  0 points
X Off the wall answer; random; one of a kind grasping at straws, etc.; perhaps worth pity points 
CC started out okay, but gradually diverged due to misapplication of physics - please come to the Course Center to figure out how to get back on track.
U something wrong with the units
ECF error carried forward from previous part (but otherwise correct)*
M minor arithmetic error
M+ major arithmetic error
N not answering the entire question - often a matter of not reading the entire question!
E explanation lacking key point
E2 explanation lacking two key points (E3 = three, etc.)
SF Significant figures too few or too many
L diagram or graph poorly labeled (missing one or two labels)
L2 diagram or graph horribly poorly labeled (>2 labels missing)


*People should not be penalized twice for ECF; presumably they lost points in the previous section. Also, ECF should ONLY be used if the answer is otherwise correct.


It is acceptable to use multiple codes when more than one kind of mistake has been made. However, once the quality of the work has suffered with three or more mistakes, sometimes an "X" makes more sense than specifying every kind of mistake - use your judgement and remember, this is to speed things up! It is always up to the student to figure out what they did wrong.

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