Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Midterm Madness

I finally finished grading the second midterm for the calculus class. The students actually did very well compared to other second midterms-- the median was 74 (70 is passing) and the pass rate 59% among students who took the test. (There are always a few who don't-- our university has a financial aid loophole that encourages students to show up to class for the first week, and then never again.) Usually the second midterm stinks like last week's garbage and has a median ten points lower than that, with a pass rate slightly under 50% (even with a curve on it dropping the passing score down 5 points or so). The F's were primarily low F's, and they belonged by and large to a predictable group of students: those who don't show up for class, and those who were failing all their quizzes prior to the exam. These groups often overlap.

I have no idea what goes through the heads of students who pay good money for a class, and then show up only on quiz days and leave as soon as they've finished flunking the quiz. Then when I give them an F, they send me angry e-mails: "How could you give me an F??" I always reply that it couldn't have come as a surprise to them that they were failing, since they got an F on every test and quiz for fifteen weeks.