Thanks to Paul Hebert for his thoughtful response (as well as those who commented) to my post below here. It’s a fitting topic, given that it was my worst day of attendance this semester. Part of that could be attributable to Wisconsin culture (it is the start of deer season), as well as the fact that classes are cancelled tomorrow for Thanksgiving and some students may have decided to get an early jump on the holiday. Anyway, here are my comments to Paul (and others):
1. I appreciate the Arte Johnson reference as I remember watching Laugh-In in my youth.
2. I’ve been teaching statistics off and on for 15 years, and have found the following to be the “Keys to Success” in the class (which I publish in the syllabus):
- Attend class regularly. Students who attended class regularly averaged an AB/B for their final grade, while those students who missed 5 or more classes averaged a C for their final grade.
- Do all the homework problems assigned. On one exam last semester, students who scored a 4 or higher on their chapter homework averaged an A, while those who scored 3 or lower (or did not turn in their homework) averaged a CD.
- Do not wait until the night before to do the homework. Start the homework early. At the end of each lecture, I will try to mention what homework problems the lecture covered.
- Come to office hours if you are having problems on the homework. If you wait to start the homework the night before it is due, you will lose this valuable asset.
- Utilize the material on the g drive (end note: these are materials I prepare above and beyond the text, such as past exams).
- Study and get organized prior to taking the exams.
None of the above should be particularly shocking, but it helps to let the students know what works. I think it addresses what Paul mentions as “communicating the impact of behavior” by showing with data the impact of missing class and not working on homework. Much of what I do from semester to semester is to try to influence behavior and tweak my requirements regarding homework, exams, attendance, and office hours.
3. I instituted the 10 point penalty in the Spring of 2009, after having no penalty for missing 5 or more classes in previous semesters. What impact did it have? The percentage of students missing 5 or more classes dropped from 22.8% to 15.9%. Meanwhile, the percentage of students missing 2 or fewer classes increased from 56.1% to 65.9%. However, this is a very small sample, and the jury is still out on this semester.
4. I may, on occasion, grade on a curve for exams, depending on class performance. If the top score on an exam, for example, is a 40 (out of 40), there will not be a curve. However, if the high score is below a 40, an adjustment in scores will be made. If the high score on the exam is a 36, and a student scores a 31, I will divide 31 by 36 and multiply that amount by 40 (to adjust it to a 40 point scale). This results in a score of 34.4 and this would be the grade (rounded to the nearest tenth) that will be counted toward the final grade.
6. Attendance usually is not a problem in the first couple weeks of class. I rarely see a student miss a class during the first week, and no more than 2 students miss a class in the first two weeks. It is around week 3 or beyond that attendance starts to slip, and chronically absent students usually withdraw from the class.
7. Students will have the opportunity to “re-take” any of the exams that are scheduled (except the final two) under the following conditions:
- Each student is eligible to re-take up to 3 exams over the course of the semester.
- Each exam that is re-taken will be similar, but not identical to the original exam
- The score one earns on the re-take will replace the previous score, regardless of whether the score improves or declines.
- If a student misses an exam for any reason (regardless of excused or unexcused), he or she will not have the opportunity to re-take it.
- If a student accumulates 5 or more absences (regardless of those absences being “excused” or “unexcused”) over the course of the semester, he or she will no longer be eligible to re-take any exam. Attendance will be taken every class period. Further, If the student is absent (regardless of reason) on any day homework is scheduled to be collected (regardless if it is collected or not), the student will lose one re-take opportunity.
- If the student scores a 2 or lower on any homework that is randomly collected, the student will no longer be eligible to re-take the exam for that particular chapter. So, if I randomly collect the homework for chapter 6, and the student scores a 2 or lower on it, he or she will not be allowed to re-take the chapter 6 exam. A score of 2 or lower on any homework that is randomly collected will also lessen the number of re-take opportunities by one.
8. I will definitely try gathering grade expectations of the students at the start of the semester.
9. Students who attend SHRM meetings held regularly during the semester are given 2 extra credit points for each meeting attended.
With that as background, does it change the answers to the original questions?