Well, I finished going through the midterms for a first pass. Oh, they were terrible! And there were many strange notes in there too, both heartfelt-sounding apologies for being slackers and very angry attacks on me as a teacher ... a very chatty class, which is odd, considering the sheer number of IDs they left blank.
And I really really hate giving credit for crap. If someone does not identify the work correctly and then writes "this was important to our class because it shows that we can relate to just about any piece of writing from olden days" or "This was written in a difficult style to really make the reader slow down and think about what is being said" AND THAT IS THE FULL EXTENT OF THE ANSWER, then NO, you are not getting ANY credit!
However, giving zeros instead of Fs for individual answers really tanks the student's midterm grade. I gave out a lot of F-level points for bad answers, too. It's just that I really really hate giving partial credit to a blank page or the answers listed above.
But these answers are so bad and the tests skew so low that I got paranoid and did a quick rundown of the IDs, answer by answer:
So in this first picture you can see this first three IDs. The pencil line is the cutoff between passing and not passing for an answer. We spent an entire week on # 2 and I swore to them that there would be a midterm ID on it since it was right before the midterm. # 3 is back from the first week of class so it makes sense that even when they ID'd it, they didn't have much useful to say about it. And do you see the number of zeros???
Number 5, interestingly enough, had an image next to it on the PP slide. That's about where I want all of them to fall in terms of quality. Number 6 is completely bimodal --- and not only did a lot of people leave that blank, even more totally misidentified it as something that sounds nothing like it. I spent an entire class period on that text (and every single one of the IDs was up on a powerpoint slide and we proceeded to close read it), but I am willing to say that this was just not a good ID and give the points out for it.
Thing is, giving an extra 12 points to someone with a grand total of 31 (out of 100) isn't going to do much.
My total midterm breakdown was as follows:
(9 of those Fs are 40 % or below)
So I'm still pondering what to do next, partly because I can't really tell what was going on in the students' heads: to what extent were they lost and to what extent were they blowing it off because it is a stupid GE course and they are about to have fall break? I'm inclined to go in there next time and give them a stern talking-to, a heads up that the quality of their tests was terrible, and that even if I were to give them credit for one of the IDs because so few got it, many of them would still be failing. Then I could give them some stern reminders about working harder and maybe do a practice question or two later in the semester.
(Thing is, I am about to do a zillion comp conference hours next week and will once again be down-to-the-minute on class prep. I haven't taught this course, or even this locale and time period, before, and I spend a lot of time just reading the stuff I've assigned (which I've never read before) and figuring out how to give a basic lecture on this crap. I never have the time in my schedule to then go back and make the effort of figuring out some quiz questions or additional sample practice midterm questions. Since I'm teaching it again next semester (oh joy!) I'll be able to use my frantic prep time for actually working out some activities and quizzes and stuff, but really I can't do that on a first time teaching a course. Maybe I'm a crappy teacher, but whatever. Them's that hired me'll have to deal with that.)
Then the question is: do I do an additional curve/bump on top of that? I dunno. I have to go talk to the chair anyway, because the angry email was not the only complaint about identifying terms or "hard stuff" (like themes. Or literary movements. The ones I have as a running title across my slides.) And the other complaint was that there were too many IDs to have time to write anything on them ---- but those are the blank midterms. I don't want to dumb this shit down! If you have no clue what these passages are, then having 1 or 6 or 10 won't make a difference!
Clearly I need to be more clear that I am an evil bitch of a grader (because I am) and that I need to be harsher on my "diagnostic" close reading essay (what I think Lucky Jane called a "handshake essay"). But really, since they were soooo much better than the comp papers, I was ok with grading them all in the C and B range. Nope. I need to just rip those early fuckers apart and warn them that I will be even meaner on the midterm, and if they don't like it, they can drop the class in week 3. Then I may actually be pleasantly surprised come midterm time, instead of have a heart attack when I open up the blue books.