Thursday, November 17, 2011

The format of a schedule

Let's assume that a particular course has three possible grades; pass, merit and distinction. A student can only achieve a merit if they have met all the pass criteria and the merit criteria. They can only get a distinction if they meet all the criteria.

Conventionally, students are presented with an assignment at the start of a course and asked to hand it in at the end. Now when I was a student (Queen Victoria was excellent) we would only start the work the week before it was due because that is when the teaching finished. That meant a blind panic - and usually the discovery that some vital section had not been understood. My experience in teaching shows me that not much has changed in the last 150 years in this area.

It would make more sense to break the work down by criterion. That way the coursework would build up rather than be created at the last minute. This removes the panic and allows for the marking to be spread more evenly (good for me and the students!). However, the students would benefit from a target, knowing what speed they need for their grades.

Below is an example of a schedule of work. It assumes that this unit is to be delivered in 15 weeks and that there are six pass criteria, two merit criteria and two distinction criteria. A student who finds themselves getting P5 marked off in week 8 is on target for a distinction. If there get there a week later then it looks like a merit, whilst only getting there in week 11 is working at pass level. Later than that is a cause for concern.

Criterion Pass Merit Distinction
P1 4 4 4
P2 5 5 5
P3 6 6 6
P4 8 7 7
P5 11 9 8
P6 15 11 9
M1 14 12
M2 15 13
D1 14
D2 15

Having this schedule available puts the responsibility for completion where it belongs - with the student. This table can be part of the coursework for each criterion with the relevant row highlighted. That way there is no doubt for staff or students where the achievement is heading. All that is left now is the pastoral care and the monitoring of progress, the subjects of the next two blogs.

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