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Misunderstood exam question with consequences for incorrect answer

Misunderstood exam question with consequences for incorrect answer

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manpreet Tuteehub forum best answer Best Answer 1 year ago


I suspect a student misread an exam question worth 10 points (exam out of 120). Aside from this one student, the rest all understood the question and the average grade was 8.2/10 for this question. One student did something entirely different and got 0.

After staring at their answer for a while, I realize he / she had confused "map generalization" and "general purpose map". I suspect English is this student’s second language. Now, this question awards 3 or 4 times the points of a typical multiple choice question as it is of a higher level.

I do not like the thought of giving this student a zero on this question when it may be a language nuance issue. They are very close terms, the one I used and the one they misunderstood if for. This student has had issues all semester though with handing work in, attending class, completing assignments, etc., (hence, why this is important as it may have implications for their grade, major, graduation).

The student is on an important grade boundary and it could make a difference to their final grade even a difference to if they have to take the class again / can graduate on time / or even stay in the major.

My thoughts are one of:

  1. Give them another stab at it with more language context, ASAP.
  2. Give them some consolation points.
  3. Stick with the 0 for this question.
  4. Grade the question they answered and not the question asked.
  5. Give him / her the lowest grade anyone else got (or 1 lower) for this question.

The semester is over but I have a few days before grades are due.

What to do?


UPDATE

The Department Chair recommends removing this one question from this one student's exam and the Associate (sub) Dean applying the "rest of the exam average" to this one question. This is two ways of saying the same thing really as the outcome is identical. Either way you do it applies this one student's average grade for all the other questions to this one question. The Chair and Dean (both whom I highly regard) have no more information than this board aside from the student's name. So if the student averaged 70">70% on the other questions this would be identical to giving them a 7 out of 10 on this question (this 7 is close to what would happen). Hmmmm. This has not come up in all the answers or comments below.

What to do?

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manpreet 1 year ago

At my institution the default way to handle this is (3 Stick with the 0 for this question). Essentially, every student is required to handle the teaching language well enough to be able to work on the test. In practice, many teachers will fall back to (2 Give them some consolation points) if giving 0 points seems too harsh. If (1 Give them another stab at it with more language context) is an actual option, that seems like a senseful way, too (e.g., in a short verbal exam). However, in practice this is often not possible in my courses, either because it would be very impractical or because the course regulations do not allow it.

Both, (4 Grade the question they answered and not the question asked) and (5 Give him / her the lowest grade anyone else got for this question), seem like relatively weird ways to handle this situation. With (5), you are essentially decoupling the grades for the student from what (s)he has actually written on the test. (4) breaks a fundamental exam concept, i.e., that the instructor chooses the question that the student should be answering, and not vice versa.

As for this:

The student is on an important grade boundary and it could make a difference to their final grade even a difference to if they have to take the class again / can graduate on time / or even stay in the major.

As bad as you may feel if "your" grade is the tip of the iceberg that leads to bad consequences for the student, you should be aware that it is the sum of bad performances that has gotten the student into troubles. Your grade is just the last in a series, and your grade is as much "at fault" as any other bad grade the student received. Hence, I feel you are not required to take the larger picture into account.


 
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