Class Policies for Chemistry 335 Spring 2018
Grading methods, philosophy and scale
Naturally, your grade is determined by the quality of work you do!
As far as grading particular items goes, I have found that grading in a holistic fashion is very effective for me. I look at a problem on an exam or at your report or whatever, and try to determine if it is B work or C work and so on. This is much more efficient for me than assigning a certain number of points to each little piece of the assignment and then totaling them up.
What are my expectations for each letter grade? There are a number of ways of describing characteristics of students who earn a particular grade, and it is impossible to specify those characteristics perfectly (I could make the descriptions below almost infinitely long). However, here are some brief criteria which will give you an idea of how I look at performance and grades. By the way, nobody's perfect - on a given problem or assignment, a really great student might blow it, or a student who usually struggles might have a flash of insight. So think of these descriptions as representing performance over the long haul. This is one reason why there are several tests and different types of assignments over the semester.
- I consider an "A" student to be one who masters all the concepts and can can apply them readily in routine situations, who knows nearly all the relevant facts, and in addition, can take what they know and use it in an unfamiliar situation. An "A" student not only answers the questions, but they are able to see how different parts of the assignment and course fit together - they have a grasp of the "big picture" and demonstrate insight which shows on their work. The "A" student will be very good at communicating and arguing their point.
- A "B" student will have reasonable mastery of most concepts but be a little shaky on some of them, and perhaps have an occasional significant misunderstanding of a concept. They will know many of the relevant facts. They will have trouble transferring their knowledge to new situations some of the time. Most of the time they will see the big picture of how ideas in the course fit together.
- A "C" student will have a number of misconceptions and a weak command of the facts. Their answers will be wrong in some way as much as half the time (which will on average earn a grade in the 70's). Jargon and concepts will frequently be employed inappropriately and arguments (reasoning ability) will not be strong.
- A "D" student provides wrong information or answers more than half the time. When they do provide an answer that is partially correct, it often has a great deal of misconceptions embedded within it. Facts are frequently wrong and concepts used incorrectly a large percentage of time. However, a D student does possess at least a little useful knowledge of the subject.
- An "F" student does not have a significant level of competency in the course. They cannot provide even a modest answer to a very straightforward or simple question and cannot work simpler problems to a correct answer.
Notice that my expectations do not factor in effort. What is rewarded is the demonstration of knowledge and mastery of the course material, along with the associated critical thinking skills. Why is that? From my point of view, effort is exceptionally difficult to measure. It is very subjective. Effort is a very personal matter dealing with one's self view and attitudes and many other factors. While I try to get to know students fairly well, the truth is I don't begin to have enough knowledge about you to measure your effort in an accurate manner. Further, effort is in some sense only loosely connected with performance in a course. We all know people who because of low course standards breezed through a course and got an A without making much of an "effort." As another example, imagine a student with a lot of experience in a subject or high native intelligence, who gets an A without any strain (i.e., effort). The concept of effort is way too fuzzy for me to be comfortable using impressions of it in assigning grades.
Your grade in this class does not depend in any way on anybody else's grades. No class averages are used in computing grades.
I also consider the scores of the entire class, and I may choose to move some of the grade cutoffs in the table below. I do this using my professional judgment, based upon over three decades of teaching and experience in evaluating over a thousand students. When and if I move cutoffs, all students with a given overall % are treated the same. Thus, if I decide that 89% will be an A-, then all students with an 89% will get an A-. In using my professional judgment, I keep in mind such factors as, but not limited to, the following:
- The overall difficulty of the class; how hard I pushed you.
- Improvement of the entire class over time,
in particular performance on the final.
- The relative harshness of grading - was I too hard or too easy in my grading?
- How well students near the cutoffs reflect my expectations for a particular letter grade, as described earlier.
Once I have considered these factors, I make the final assignment of grades. Here is the grade scale I use with all my classes:
Class Attendance Policy
Because this class is discussion-oriented, attendance is required.
- If you must miss a class due to illness or crisis, please make every effort to notify me in advance.
- Arrangements can usually be made for sports committments if you are a team member, but do not abuse this privilege.
- If you do miss a class, it is your responsibility to get caught up on the material. The usual approach is to get the class notes from a friend who knows how to take good notes.
The DePauw policy on academic integrity is described here and you should read it as you will be held to its standards in this course. Violations in the form of cheating, plagiarism, submission of the work of others etc. will result in penalties ranging from a lowered grade to course failure.
If you have read this far, you've earned a bonus toward your final grade! To claim your point, e-mail me by 5 pm on Friday February 9th 2018 and put "Chem 335 Bonus" in the subject line.
© Prof. Bryan
Hanson Last update:
Styled with Bootstrap