It’s the third day of class, and I’ve already had three emails from students questioning the “correct” answer on a quiz.
A practice quiz, in the first week, not one that counts for points.
One of the emails didn’t even address me or greet me, but just asked why their answer was wrong and made a whole argument without so much as a hello. As if I were a computer.
Perhaps multiple choice quizzes look like they are written by computer, but these are my quizzes, written by me based on my lecture.
It’s not that the students’ arguments were necessarily wrong. Usually complaints about quiz marking are 50% correct – if I’d written the question slightly differently, they would have gotten it right. 50% are just wrong, which is fine.
I change their grade if they make a good argument. I change the quiz question for next term if it was unclear. But it seems I’m now continually editing quiz questions to try to make them perfect, and of course when it gets to the point where students are arguing about ungraded quizzes, I really have to wonder.
Is this how I want to spend my time? Is this how I want them spending their time? I just want them to think about the lecture or readings, and show me somehow that they have. And since I can’t engage in a one-on-one tutorial discussion about it to make sure, and because I want them to have some immediate personal feedback, I wrote all these quizzes.
Understand, I don’t mind them questioning my quiz questions – it’s cool that they’re engaged and I’m not that insecure. But if they do that instead of questioning my perspective or developing their own, what are we doing?
One thing we’re doing is encouraging the idea that I am a computer rather than a person. I felt obligated to remind the first student who wrote that I was a person, so I’d appreciate being greeted. He wrote back that in future his emails would contain a greeting. That email didn’t have a greeting either.
We’re nit-picking, both quiz questions and manners, and missing the larger issues entirely.