That is why I allow (well, to be honest, more like REQUIRE) students to redo their work sometimes. To me, it’s not acceptable to allow students to hand in assignments that are not fully complete or have been thrown together at the last minute.
For assignments that I feel need to be redone, I put an “R” footnote in pencil in the gradebook instead of a score. They are aware that this placeholder acts as a zero unless they bother to go back and do a more thorough job on the assignment. Then it’s treated as late work and they can earn up to a ¾ score. (The same score as a complete, late assignment).
Of course, I could have offered a score of 2/4 or ¾ for “incomplete” work at homework checking time (see my full homework scoring policy here (link). But that's what a student who scribbled out a few lines on the way into class is often hoping for. It's the easy way out, and what some students in a rush are willing to settle for instead of putting in the effort.
I’d rather have the students actually go back and get the practice they need than handing in sloppy work just to have something counted. The temporary zero motivates them to take the time and effort to actually TRY over the next weekend when they have the time.
However, the key to this working and remaining fair to everyone is that the students don’t get the full amount of credit they would have if they would have done it thoroughly and correctly the first time. Don’t let them be lazy and get off without doing the work just because they don’t mind getting a lower grade. As teachers we need to make them step up and do it. Basically, it’s all about accountability.
Being accountable for the work and also knowing that they aren’t going to get off easy are valuable lessons in life. That’s why letting students redo their work is actually very beneficial for them.
I believe that this type of policy also goes for assessments; allowing students to correct their tests where they can earn as much as half of their missed points back. For a full explanation of how I make this work, make sure to check out my post on Procedures for Test Corrections.
How Students Benefit from a Good Re-Do Policy:
When students get to redo their assignments, they get to re-address the problems and actually get familiar with the material. Knowing they get a second chance helps them be more motivated to complete the assignment. Their self-esteem also comes into play when they realize that you believe in their ability to get it done right.
As Rick Wormeli, a 30-year teaching veteran, stated in his article Redos and Retakes Done Right, “Students hope that teachers see the moral, competent, and responsible self inside them, waiting to shed its immature shell.” Students like to feel that their teachers know they have potential.
And it also gets them ready for the real world. So many high stake professions allow for practice and retakes. It’s rare that in the adult world you find a one and done situation. The Bar exam is a perfect example. It can take some lawyers years to pass this test. But they always get to try again. Redoing equals practice, which will only enhance the wealth of knowledge. Many exams we take as adults allow us retakes, so why not let students redo a few assignments with less credit?
The same holds true in the workplace. If students turn in a sloppy report or show a hastily thrown together project at work someday, they’ll have to re-do it to meet the standards, and suffer the consequences of disappointing a boss, staying overtime, or losing a client for example. Student life can get busy, and at times, grading techniques must reflect this.
I’ve collected more thoughts to share about my grading techniques that may be useful for you and beneficial to your students. From points to footnotes, there are a lot of tips and tricks here to help you keep track and also keep students accountable. Read more about it here Grading Homework: A Four-Point System.
Do you allow retakes? Let us know why or why not in the comments below. We would love to read about systems that work well for this! Thanks for sharing.
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(and an Intro to the Theory that is a More Accurate Representation of How to Teach)
What’s the problem with learning styles?
You may already be balking at the thought that everything that was taught about learning styles could possibly be wrong. But that’s exactly what the case may be. We turn to cognitive psychologist, Dr. Josh Cuevas, Ph.D of Educational Psychology at the University of North George for some answers and much needed research.
“Five years ago a team of highly respected cognitive psychologists (Pashler, McDaniel, Rohrer, & Bjork, 2009) published what should have been a bombshell in a rational world. They identified the type of evidence necessary to confirm the learning styles hypothesis and then went about searching for studies that could provide that sort of evidence, ultimately finding none. None.”
He later continues that “What Pashler et al. (2009) found was that there was virtually no research at all to support the existence of learning styles or their impact on student learning. A handful of other researchers have recently examined the literature and have come to similar conclusions.” (source).
Why learning styles do not work
One of the main reasons is simple: input overload. Our brains have a certain encoding process. Studies have long determined, with high amounts of certainty, that our brains have two hemispheres, the left which is responsible for language functions and the right that is mostly used for spatial reasoning and visuospatial processing. And that is exactly the part of our cognition where the myth of learning styles lies.
When you tailor a lesson or even a tutoring session to a student who is thought to learn by language better than auditory stimulation, they can get overloaded. Our synapses can only hold so much information. The brain is easily inundated with too much information in one hemisphere and therefore “dumps” important information into temporary or even unnecessary compartments of memory. The area that stores that particular type of input will overflow before it can convert it into long-term memory. Therefore, students retain far less information than they would if the lesson was balanced.
That means no matter what way a person learns best, if any one given area of the brain is overstimulated, information is lost. Even if someone thrives on language, when they’re bombarded with words and powerpoints with even more words as text, their language conduits are overloaded.
As Dr. Cuevas states, “Think about what it would be like if your spouse were to talk to you about dinner while two kids explained their encounter with the neighbor’s puppy as you’re trying to read this. Not so good for processing.”
What is Dual Coding, and Why Is It So Important?
When you can access both hemispheres at the same time while learning there is no overload. It’s a shared experience in the brain.
When we can activate both the right (artsy) hemisphere of the brain and the left (logical) side of the brain at the same time, the two hemispheres communicate across the corpus callosum.
Further insight from Dr. Cuevas states, “These results, with all participants performing better in the visual condition and worse in the auditory condition, are exactly what dual coding does predict. When the participants were provided with stimuli that required them to use imagery and activate the visuo-spatial areas of the right cerebral hemisphere, in addition to using the left, they remembered more of what they were exposed to.
The pictures they created in their heads to go along with the word helped them to remember more information than those who just focused on the words and the sound of them.”
In essence, Dual Coding Theory tells us that graphic input and linguistic input are stored in two completely different areas of the brain. The two sets of information are processed there in short term memory. However, we can increase the chances of that information being retained (converted to long-term memory) by building connections between the two.
When we integrate images and text (like in a visual note taking strategy), we help students build a stronger understanding of each concept AND a stronger understanding of the relationships between the terms and ideas!
Visual Triggers: Examples of Graphic Input Combined with Text
When I create visual analogies for a doodle note lesson, the goal is to help students understand and retain concepts. I call these "visual memory triggers," because they help students to recall and differentiate between ideas.
The doodle note strategy allows students to interact with their lesson notes using both hemispheres of their brains. Kids can color, draw, doodle, highlight, and embellish the page to get the most of the visual input and interact through embedded student tasks.
For the commutative property, I teach students to remember the word "commute" and place one letter per window of the bus. They remember that was the one for the property that moves variables "back and forth."
For surface area vs. volume, I use a paintbrush and a pool. Students remember that the term "surface area" can be split into two words - one for the handle of the paintbrush and one for the bristles. They keep it straight from volume by knowing that was the one that covers the outside of the shape like painting.
For a three-layer reading strategy, the visual analogy is a cake with layers. Students fill in what to do on each re-read of the text, and then they remember that this particular method requires reading in "layers."
There are so many ways to teach and so many ways to learn. And there is no way to know how to teach students across the board. No one thought, construct, or theory should be a defining factor. After learning more and more about the research behind cross-lateral exercises for the brain, I've become convinced that our students need to be activating the right hemisphere of the brain in math class. The proven benefits of communication between the two hemispheres of the brain include focus, learning, memory / retention, and even relaxation. We constantly need to strive for what’s best for our students.
So take a break from trying to meet all learning styles, and offer your students strategies like doodle notes, which fit the research behind visual learning and dual coding theory.
I developed the doodle note teaching strategy to encourage left and right brain communication, blend visual and text input, and offer increased focus and retention of the lesson content.
Letting your students learn with this balance of visual and linguistic information will benefit ALL of them in the long run, despite any learning preferences.
Learn more about out visual note taking and Dual Coding Theory, then dive in deeper at doodlenotes.org
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