6th grade. I don’t even remember her name, but my 6th grade teacher commended me on using the correct too (two/to/too). It was at that point I felt that what I had to say (and write) in class mattered. It set a standard for me academically; and I didn’t want to be less than what the teacher said I was (smart!).
I wish I could remember her name and thank her for believing in me more than I did.
I learned to be sincere in my teaching when I was teaching at Mesa Community College. I am not good at “edutainment” teaching, I tend to be quite straight forward in my approach, and I thought that students would not like me as an instructor because I was not very exciting. In my second year of teaching at Mesa, I was awarded a Teacher of the Year award. I wondered why, and one of the student that nominated me told me the reason was because I cared about their learning. She said that it was clear that I cared, and that the caring was what mattered, not the “smoke and mirrors” and dazzling effects. I have always remembered to be sincere in my caring and approach, and let the rest take care of itself.
This post is about how changing from chapter tests (one test roughly every 3 weeks) to weekly quizzes dramatically changed the success rates of my students.
I used college algebra students as my guinea pigs. When I looked at my students from fall 96 through fall 98, I saw that they had a 50% chance of passing, 10% chance of a D or F and a 40% chance of withdrawing. Not being happy with these statistics I began a conversation with my wife who taught 2nd grade. She said “Test them more!” So, being a good husband, I complied. Starting in Fall 99 through Fall 2004 I gathered data on how my college algebra students did when I switched from 6 chapter tests and a final to, 13 weekly quizzes a midterm and a final. The results were that now 78% were passing, 7% were receiving a D or F and 15% were withdrawing. Also, I gave the same final that I gave from Fall 96-98 and the scores on my comprehensive final were the same, at around 73% average.
Therefore, I encourage all of you who teach to consider more frequent assessment. There is also a byproduct that I hadn’t anticipated besides the better success rate. That was, that I found that grading smaller tests once a week was not as daunting as looking at a pill of large tests every 3rd week. Grading isn’t as disliked by me as it once was.
Give this a try and as the ad said many many years ago “Mikey Likes It!”