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Karen Wheless kwheless at rockland.net
Fri Nov 14 21:23:17 EST 1997

> I think students generally have the feeling "its just a class" so they
> don't feel like they are cheating.  I think making lab grades more
> dependent upon true observations (rather than say 100% yield)
> is a way to eliminate some of the need for fudging/ cheating etc.

In the general chemistry classes I TA'd, the grade was based 100% on the
number you got at the end.  I found that it discouraged the good
students, since a tiny mistake would often leave you with a failing
grade, while someone who randomly ended up with the "right" number (or
close to it), did better, even leaving out the people who cheated.

In organic chemistry, we went in the other direction and based grades
heavily on written lab reports.  I always required a written description
of what you did, what went wrong, what went right, etc.  It was easier
to tell who was cheating and who wasn't, although I'm sure some of them
were "fudging" a little bit.  Of course, the trade off was time.  It was
difficult enough to grade 40 or 50 written lab reports a week, I'm not
sure I could have done it for the 100-120 students I had in a semester
of general chem labs.


Funny anecdote - students always were creative in trying to explain
greater than 100% yield (which resulted from not having time to dry
their products before class was over).  I got explanations of space
aliens, breaks in the space/time continuum, and CIA conspiracy theories.
I always gave a point or two for creativity :->

Karen Wheless                 kwheless at rockland.net
 "Art is I, science is we."  Claude Bernard

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