Web Teaching Journal (Week 8): From Multiple Choice to Short Essay

This is the eighth in a fifteen part, weekly journal on my experience teaching a web class. Each post explores how things are going in the current week and ideas for future revisions of the course. For my archive of previous posts in this series, click here.

I started mixing things up. I changed a recent quiz from multiple choice to short essay. I also set the quiz so that students could repeatedly open and close it and return to it as needed. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and manually grading the student responses because I was able to gauge what readings and topics were having the most impact and sparking the most interest. What’s hard is getting students to understand what is expected of them in a short essay, so I went easy on them this first time around, but after the closing of the quiz I posted my favorite responses on the course message board. Now, for the next quiz, they know how expansive they need to be.

I had an interesting problem while grading, though. I felt better about grading the answers per question, as opposed as to doing each student quiz separately. Half-way through the process, I got upset emails from students complaining about their low scores (because they had only received credit for the answers I had graded). I have not yet figured out how to do the grading in such a way so that students do not get a partial tally of their grade before I have graded all of their responses.

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