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Robert Talbert
Math professor at Grand Valley State University. Catholic, Dad, writer, cat herder. My views != GVSU's
Math professor at Grand Valley State University. Catholic, Dad, writer, cat herder. My views != GVSU's

Robert Talbert's posts

The start of the new school year is just around the corner. I'd encourage anybody who is using SBSG in their fall classes to post some info about it -- syllabi, standards lists, whatever -- either as replies to this post or as posts unto themselves. Remember sharing is caring. 

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Came across this research primer by Matt Townsley. Definitely worth a look. 

Hey everyone, hope your school year is winding down well. Just a call for contributions -- I think the whole group would love to hear your SBSG stories from this year. Successes, failures, a combination of these --- write them up and post them here. (Not as comments to this post, because those get hard to read, but as separate posts.) Thanks!

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Good article here, not about SBSG but about focusing on feedback rather than grades and points. Arthur actually advocates a completely grades-free system which is a step beyond SBSG. Discuss. 

I could use the wisdom of the group here with an end-of-semester grading issue that I bet is not unique to my experience.

In my class, students earn their course grade through taking quizzes over Learning Targets and turning in "challenge problems" which are harder application problems related to the learning targets. Among other things, to earn a C in the course students are required to pass 5 of these challenge problems. Students are allowed two submissions of these per week and can revise them as much as they want. The precise wording of the syllabus, which we call the "two per week rule", is:

"No more than *two Challenge Problem submissions per week may be made*. This can be two new submissions, a new submission and a revision, or two revisions. A third submission may be made if a token is spent (see below). This restriction is in place to ensure that students don't procrastinate until the end of the course to work on these assignments."

We just finished the semester, which is week 14. The final deadline for all challenge problems was last night.

So, I have a student who did not submit his first challenge Problems until week 13, one week ago. He submitted two of them in that week and both were marked unsatisfactory and sent back for revision. He submitted the revisions at the beginning of week 14 (the final week) and got satisfactory marks. Then, last night just before the deadline, he submitted three more new problems. (He spent a token to do so.) That means he submitted five problems during week 14 which is not allowed. I emailed him to tell him so. But, the student says he thought that "submissions" meant new submissions, and revisions didn't count toward the two-per-week rule -- even though to my eyes, it's stated with absolute clarity in the syllabus that revisions do count.

If the student were allowed to submit all the things he submitted, and he got satisfactory marks on them, he would end up with a C+ in the class because he passed all 20 of the Learning Targets. Otherwise he gets an D+ and has to repeat the class. He's actually been a very good student in the course but really screwed this up with the syllabus and procrastinating till the end with these challenge problems. To his credit, the student takes responsibility but also wants to know if there's anything that can be done.

So you can probably guess what I am going to ask: Do I stick to the syllabus here or do I find a way to justify accepting the student's work even though it wasn't technically allowed?

I think I have an answer of my own but I want more sets of eyes on the situation before I decide.

Aside: I can't tell if it's a bug or a feature of SBSG that it really requires that students carefully read the syllabus and stay current with their work. On the one hand they have to learn not to be minimally engaged with their courses. On the other hand this is exactly most students' weakest point and if you can fail a course by screwing this up, it somehow doesn't seem right. 

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Did I mention I’ll be on sabbatical with +Steelcase all next year? Details at the blog: 

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Over at the blog, I've started up the GTD for Academics series again. This one is a recap of +Leo Babauta 's Zen To Done and why it fits well with the academic life. 

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New at the blog: Set up a student-friendly grading status board using +Trello. Part of the weekly Sanity Check series. 

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Hi everyone, hope your semester is winding down well. I've done an update of my syllabus for the upcoming Discrete Structures 2 course, and I'm sharing it so you can pick it apart. Enjoy.
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