What's my grade? - History Research Journal

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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

What's my grade?

This week, it's back to school after a week of spring break and a week of the Blackboard site being down. It's all about playing catchup, clarifying extended deadlines, grading the influx of midterms and second papers that will now come in at the same time (when I had so perfectly planned one to be before spring break and one after) and answering the age old question:

What's my grade?

I've been getting this question a lot lately, which surprised me because their grades are posted in the Blackboard Gradebook and the syllabus details how the grades breakdown (10% for papers, 30% participation, etc). Since they only have one paper completed, they only officially have one grade - which is the one posted online.

Am I crazy to think that's a sufficient grade marker until they turn in more work?

(Which, by the way, will be updated with a midterm and second essay in a week.) I think the problem lies in the participation grade.

I'm one of those teachers who counts participation for a big part of the grade. As long as students do the three posts on the discussion board a week and any other assignments, they get the points. Ideally, I use this to ensure that students:
  1. actively participate which will improve their grades all around and
  2. hopefully, not worry about their grades as much
I've always just tallied the grades at the end of the term since I can go week by week to double check (I heart online classes!) and because it weeds out any students who withdrew throughout the course. This term, though, it's an anomaly of students expecting more thorough accounting of their grades. When I was in college, we NEVER got updates on participation grades. You just knew if you participated and tracked your official grades according to the syllabus.
Do you think that's enough? Should I switch it to a week-by-week checklist or should I make my adult students take ownership of tracking their participation?
In a more fun survey: How many times have you been asked this question today, this week or this term (I'm guessing countless for the last one)?

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