# Grading statistics – midterm 1

Here are the grading statistics from midterm 1

Some of the compression at the top end is caused by our selecting the best 10 questions out of 12.  But even allowing for that, we have a very bimodal distribution, with one larger group of students reaching an almost-perfect score, another rather smaller but significant group who are having trouble with half or more of the questions, and few in between.

# Grading statistics – blog period 1

Grading has finished for blogging period 1.  In this post I’ll give some information about the grade distribution, and comments.

Here is a bar chart showing the overall grade distribution for blogging period 1.  Let me break down some of the numbers here.

• There are 20 students in the D and F area. Almost without exception, these are students who either have posted nothing at all, or posted their initial introduction (required in Week 1) and then stopped.  Because of the best-of-three-periods algorithm that I am using for the blogs, these students still have two opportunities to succeed in this component of the course; I hope they take advantage of it.
• Among those who did post something substantive, many did not post enough to obtain higher than a “C” grade.  For a “B”, the syllabus requirement is one post a week.  This does not seem too demanding, especially for a class without other homework assignments.
• Many posts contained simple errors that could be eliminated by re-reading them more carefully: links that do not work, math calculations that do not yield the answer stated, mistakes about units (confusing dollars with cents was surprisingly common – let’s hope students don’t do that in real life!)
• A quality post does not just contain numbers, but uses quantitative reasoning to advance an argument.  A good way to do this is to make comparisons between different scenarios.  Sarah’s sample post is a good example of this.
• It was interesting to see so many posts that tried to evaluate some “sustainability”-related change (should I use bottled water?/buy a hybrid car?) in financial terms alone.  Sometimes the “sustainable” approach will save money, sometimes it may not.  I would have liked to see more discussion of the trade-offs that are inevitable in such decisions – I sometimes got the impression that the financial bottom line was going to settle everything.
• Even in the best posts there was room for improvement in presentation, argument and referencing.  I will be glad to talk in office hours with anyone who wants help working on their blogging skills or crafting a quality post.

# Attendance in class

We’ve now had three in-class pop quizzes.  As is explained in the syllabus, these quizzes are used to help verify attendance in class.  To quote

However, a 2.5% per quiz “attendance” score will be awarded to those who are in class and participate in four of the pop-quizzes. Note that there will probably be more than four pop-quizzes during the semester. You won’t know until afterwards which pop-quizzes are being used to verify attendance.

Just to clarify that last sentence: we are recording participation in all the pop quizzes, and at the end of the semester we will randomly select four of them which will be the ones that count for verifying attendance.

With that in mind I took a look at the statistics from the in-class quizzes we have had so far

• 20 people have been present for all 3 quizzes
• 10 have been present for 2 out of 3
• 6 have been present for 1 out of 3
• 4 have been present for no quizzes (!)

There is no substitute for showing up.

# Quiz review, and information

A question was asked in class yesterday whether I could return your “pop quizzes” to you after you complete them in class, so that you could use them for review.  Remember that the pop quizzes are used to record your attendance.

I’d prefer to keep the quizzes that you have written, but to help you review I have posted copies of the last two pop quizzes, with solutions, in a new folder here.  I also posted solutions to the most recent “daily quiz”, again to help you review.  If enough people find that useful, I can continue posting these solutions.  Please use the comments to respond whether that would be useful to you or not.

The folder for the quiz solutions is also now linked from the “Course Notes” section of the Resources tab.

# Blogging feedback

I’ve now reviewed all the introductory posts on the student blog.  It is fascinating to see the variety of backgrounds and experiences of the students in this course.  Thanks for sharing your ideas.  Those of you who did not make an introductory post, we missed your contribution!  (You also did not help your grade any, but I imagine you’re already aware of that.)

I noted a number of things that might help some students improve the quality of your posts.

• Make sure your post has a title.   (“Untitled Post” does not count.)
• Use categories and/or tags to describe post content.
• Follow instructions.  For instance, if asked for a picture, make sure to post one!
• Don’t forget to comment on the posts of others, as well as to post on your own account.
• Make sure that any URLs you include are active (clickable) hyperlinks.  I’ve asked Kaley to make a tech support post about generating hyperlinks.

Please contact Kaley with any  blogging questions.  If necessary, we can easily schedule another tech support session in a computer lab this week.

I MODIFIED THE “CUMULATIVE SCORE” IDEA that was in an earlier version of this post.  See below for details.

This post is to explain how to read your blogging grades on ANGEL.

As is explained on the syllabus, the blogging component is worth 35% of your grade.  There are three five-week “blogging periods” ending 2/13, 3/27 and 5/1, each of which will be assessed separately.  The best score over the three blogging periods will be counted towards your grade.

When you look on the ANGEL gradebook for your course, you will see three “assignments” for blogging, one corresponding to each of the three blogging periods.  When each blogging period is completed, the assignment will record your score for that period.  This will be scored out of 50, and then scaled to represent 35% of the total grade points available.

The instructors will meet each Monday to review the blog postings for the previous week. However, the grade is awarded for the blogging period as a whole.  After some thought, I’ve decided not to award week-by-week cumulative grades, as they could be confusing and also because we want to assess your contributions for the whole blogging period in terms of the qualities listed in the grading rubric.  You are welcome to consult an instructor in office hours or elsewhere for feedback about your blogging contributions.

If you have questions or need more information about a particular grade, you are welcome to contact me or one of the other instructors.