Marc Le Menestrel
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Grading of Lectures’ Assignment

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by Marc Le Menestrel (4/03/2011)

At the beginning of each Lecture, one or two questions are posted on the blackboard, with 15 minutes given to students to propose their answer.
Often, these questions call for a subjective opinion. It is therefore especially important, for fairness and pedagogical reasons, to clarify how the grading is carried out.
Given the limited time I have to correct all copies and give feedback to students, this is the heuristic I use:

1. I give one point for the students to be there and handing in a response in a A4 sheet of paper. Hence, even if you haven’t been able to prepare, or you arrive too late to provide an answer, it is important you hand in something, even a blank sheet with your name.

2. I give one point for the clear expression of an answer. This point rewards the effort of taking a stance and formulating an opinon which can be clearly understood and which can constitute a contribution to the debate.

3. I give one point for the ability to support the answer with a clear and structured reasoning. I like when the argument draws from the material of the course and/or the required reading(s). It does not mean you have to tell me what is in the readings (I know it) but that you have been able to integrate them in your reasoning.

4. I give one point for the ability to develop an argument that shows the limit of your reasoning and goes beyond, for instance by explaining how an opposite opinion could be argued and why. This point rewards your ability to reason with a different point of view than yours.

5. This process of writing and arguing for an opinion and beyond your opinion is a learning process. I give one point for the ability to synthesize this learning in a refined answer to the question that you started with.

Many students have not learned to express and argue for a subjective opinion. On the other hand, management requires that skill and this is my first objective here. Furthermore, the ability to reason and argue contrary to your opinion can be a valuable skill in order to understand others, manage debates, and act in a way that better encompasses the diversity of opinions on a subject. Finally, the ability to synthesize a learning process is critical for decision skills and this is why I insist on this ability to take a stance, albeit a refined one.

Best wishes!

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