> I think all of us need to >somehow set the "conditions of success" for our students so that they >sometimes work without being graded. I have the most trouble with >students straight out of high school who are so grade oriented and >motivated that they have no concept of learning without some prospect of >a grade on their work.High school students who have had >every assignment evaluated for a >grade sometimes go into a deathspin when they realize that they have to >motivate themselves to learn without daily grades to kick them in the rear!
I tried an experiment last semester in my business calculus class. Instead of lecturing, the students taught themselves by reading the book, working out their own examples, and answering some questions about the concepts all during class. I would lecture occasionally when I thought most of the students needed help with the same concept, but for the most part the students came into class, found out what their tasks were for that day and got to work. One of my main concerns about this method was that I didn't want to give the students any grade for the classwork they did and I worried that the students wouldn't perform or would complain.
The students did the work! I was actually amazed at how much work they would do with no grade assigned. When they hadn't finished that day's work they had to finish it and an assignment before the next class. On the end of the year evaluations, only about 10% of the class said they wished there was a grade assigned for each classwork, but their reasoning was that they did better on the classwork than the homework or the exams and they wanted credit for it. Not as an incentive to do the work.
The class was mostly 18-22 year old students from the rural midwest. The college is a selective private liberal arts college. There were two students (female, >30 years of age) in the class. Overwhelmingly, the students approved of the way the class was taught except for the two older students who requested that I lecture all the time.
Granted, the majority of the ungraded work was done in the classroom, not outside. However, the majority of these students were first year students (right out of high school) and they seemed to have no qualms about doing work for no grade.
--------------------- Murphy Waggoner Department of Mathematics Simpson College 701 North C Street Indianola, IA 50125 firstname.lastname@example.org ---------------------