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“Can You Change Your Lab Class Next Year?”

Grading is one of the five ways for changing the way you organize your biology lab class. There are many approaches to grading, and the arguments about which is best will go on forever. Forget the fancy analysis. Remember the single most important truth about grades:

How you grade will decide what your students do.

What do you want your students to do?

If you have tests that require the student to memorize certain information already printed in the lab book, then why would you expect them to be greatly concerned with what goes on during lab. Much more important for them to pay attention to the attractive person at the next table. Why are you expecting more if your grading doesn’t expect more? If you want students to complete the lab exercises, then the grade must be on that. Whatever counter arguments you have, your students agree with me.

Your grading (along with the quality of test questions) will decide what your students do during the lab and their attitude about it. The most important principles of grading are:

  • Reinforce the lab behavior you want from students.
  • Easy to manage. (Actually, it should seem like fun on your part – as if you could even feel a little guilty that it is so easy and straightforward.)
  • Your method must be clear and fair from the student perspective.

You could use weekly quizzes only. If you do, you have the choice of Closed-Book only, Open-Book only, or a mixture of Open/Closed Book quizzes. Check out our example quizzes. Example Weekly Lab Quizzes
And look at one syllabus example of grading based on this method. Lab Syllabus - using weekly quizzes

You could use midterm exams and final. If you do, we suggest either Open-Book only, or a combination of Open/Closed/Skill. Check out our example midterms. Example Midterm Lab Tests
And look at one syllabus example of grading based on this method. Lab Syllabus - using midterm exams