Do you hate correcting experiment-copies as much as me?

Because I hate it. I mean really, really hate it. So much so that I haven’t corrected a (leaving-cert) copy in years. I justify this (to myself) on the basis that I spend more than enough time in the lab on technician duty. I’m generally in the lab by 7:15 and spend most breaks there also. It may be putting together apparatus for some experiment or trouble-shooting gammy equipment which was returned broken by a student (or teacher).
Anyway, point is, I don’t apologise for taking shortcuts when I can.

So here’s what I do.
I have put together a marking scheme for every Leaving Cert mandatory experiment report and get the students to correct each others’ reports based on this marking scheme. They can’t keep using the same student to correct their report, and their final mark for each report must be entered in a master sheet which I keep open on the front desk. They can argue with each other as much as they like over their marks – but each mark must be justified.

What’s more, I give this marking scheme to the students at the beginning of the year so they get to use this to help them write up the report as they go along.

Students tape or paste the appropriate marking scheme on to the same page as the experiment it refers to.

At the very least I want them to appreciate that it doesn’t matter how much they write; there is always some key information which must be included.

  1. A labelled diagram including all essential apparatus (paying particular attention to how results are to be obtained).
  2. A description of how values were obtained for each variable.
  3. An explanation of what was changed to enable obtaining other sets of data.
  4. How the results were manipulated to allow for interpretation.
  5. Graphs, conclusion, sources of error etc.

I usually need to remind them that a report without results gets zero marks, because it’s not a report. it’s like a journalist giving a report of a match without including the result – pointless.

Every so often, after first forewarning the troops, I inspect their copies to ensure that they are actually writing up the reports. But they must have their copy open at the correct page – because I refuse to take up their copies. I also tell them that copies are to he handed up for inspection before each end-of-term report and are worth 10 % of final mark. This is a lie. I refuse to take up their copies (although when volunteer them I do store them for the students – I’m nice like that).

The irony is that this approach seems to tie in nicely with what the educationalists tell us is ‘Formative Assessment’ and encourages the student to take responsibility for their own learning.
Which is obviously why I do it. Ahem.

Formative Assessment – wikipedia

Assessment for Learning (AfL) – my webpage

Experiment copy marking scheme here

Hope they’re useful 🙂

Update.
We had an inspection in (I think) 2010 and the inspector commented favorably on this method of student learning.
Which is obviously why I do it.

By the way, if printing these for your class make sure you use the ‘print two pages onto 1’ option to reduce photocopying and paper costs.

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