Learning as Well as Assessment. Research Term Paper

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¶ … learning as well as assessment. Research has shown that assignments are correlated with academic success as well as in areas of time management and in a greater sense of accomplishment. (Anderman, 1998)

Assignments allow students to practice new concepts and permit the teacher to see the work of the student in order to identify areas that need work or to revisit areas that the class has not mastered. (Corbin & Holt, 2002, p. 121) Assignments also provide for test preparation and promote long-term recall of the new material. (Doyle, 1990)

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Being a student and being required to do assignments have gone hand in hand since most students began kindergarten. The problem is that not every student completes or turns in their assignments on time. (Mitchell & Salsbury, 2002, p. 45) From the start of formal education until the present, teachers have often struggled with students not handing in assignments on time. Although formal education has existed for well over a hundred years, there is still no solid consensus as to what works best to motivate high school students to do their work. (Alderman, 2004, p. 279) Many efforts have been made to encourage handing in assignments, from rewards like candy to giving only half credit or zeroes for late work. (Hong & Milgram, 2000, p. 120) at Central Florida High School, missing work has become a major problem and is deeply affecting our failure rates, dropout rates, and increasing student apathy towards assignments. The researcher conducted a brief survey to find out how five different teachers in the same department handled late work. The five teachers questioned provided four different answers. Two stated their students received only half credit for late work.

Term Paper on Learning as Well as Assessment. Research Has Assignment

The researcher then asked those same five teachers if their own university instructors had ever recommended a method of handling student late work. The answer was "no" - none had ever been given any insight into the problem of late assignments. Teachers have been forced to come up with their own ways and to experiment with what works or simply do what another teacher does to make it simpler. The true history behind the 50% rule is that a teacher can give the penalty easily without having to use a calculator! As a result, one of the most common penalties for late work is giving a student a reduction of 50% on each assignment that is a day late or more. (Corno, 1996) I have found no substantiating comparison outside the education world where only 50% credit is given for a product that is one day late. In construction, fines are incurred for a project that is late, but the road is not judged as half as good. If an office presentation is late, the employee may be reprimanded, written up, or even fired; but not given half credit for the presentation. If a mortgage payment is late one day, you pay a late-fee, but you do not receive only the equivalent of half the payment; it would be illegal to enforce such a severe financial penalty. In real-life situations, people receive administrative penalties for late or missing work, not a reduction of credit for the work that is done. The second issue caused by the half or no credit for late work is removing the incentive to complete the work at all. (Pilcher, 1994, pp. 81-83) Why would a student spend time on an assignment in which their highest grade can be a maximum of a failing (50%)?

Problem

The problem is that too many students, especially those at risk, are not handing in their assignments. Missing assignments become zeros in the teachers' grade books and the grades of the students plummets. (Singer, 2003, pp. 204-207) With plummeting grades, come increased course failures which may contribute the sense of disengagement that can lead to a higher dropout rate. (Lindsay, 1995; Santisteban, Szapocznik, Perez-Vidal, Murray, Kurtines & Laperriere, 1996, p. 39) the current methods teachers are using to encourage work that is handed in completed and in a timely fashion is an academic penalty that is not congruent with the real-world workplace we are preparing them for. Reducing academic accomplishments due to lateness is a deterrent for students to hand it in at all. As educators, more must be done to encourage students to hand in work complete and on time without the use of academic penalties that are counterproductive to learning.

Historical Overview

Central Florida High School has 2400 students in Orlando, Florida. The students have diverse cultural and economic backgrounds. The students are composed of: 33% White, 30% African-American, 29% Hispanic, 5% Asian, and 3% other. The school has existed for 31 years. The current failure rate (23% per semester) has been slowly increasing over that time period.

Purpose

The purpose of the study will be to reduce the number of assignments handed in and therefore improve students' feelings of accomplishment and overall grade point average. The study will also try to determine if administrative penalties are more constructive than academic penalties in increasing timeliness and completion of school assignments. The study will also attempt to answer whether teachers and students prefer administrative penalties for missing academic work and what they like or dislike about that. This study is a practical one meant to increase student success and learning by testing a new method of punishment for noncompliance.

Rarely do students fail classes if they have all of their assignments handed in on time. The study will also measure the change in failing grades for the semester to see if there is a correlation with the overall change in the number of missing assignments.

Assumptions

There are four assumptions that will be made for this study. They are (a) that all of the participants will be ethical and consistent throughout the study, (b) there will be enough teachers and students participating to provide for an appropriate sample that ensures valid data, - the subjects will be truthful in responding to the surveys administered during the study, (d) enough teachers will participate in the after-school study halls to make it a strong learning experience rather than a detention.

Delimitations

This study will be focused on Central Florida High School students. To further increase the relevance of the study, it will only involve classrooms in which the core subjects of Math, English, Social Studies and Science will be taught. Although other subjects are taught at the school, the requirements of electives often involves commitments outside the school or using tools or equipment not readily available at home or in a study hall. This may pose a problem while executing the study and therefore these courses will not be involved.

Summary

Students often fail courses because of missing or late work. The current systems that teachers are using at West Orange High School are not reaching all students. The current penalties for late or missing work are not congruent with what is observed in the adult work place for work that is missing or late. The study will test administrative penalties such as mandatory study halls for students that do not hand in work. The study will also try to establish a correlation between changes in the percentage of reduced zeros with the percentage of passing grades. The study will also measure the response of the subjects, both students and teachers, of administrative penalties compared to academic penalties. The next chapter will discuss the feelings and opinions of students and teachers on the current academic penalty system and whether they feel it is effective and what changes they feel might make it more effective.

Chapter 2

Review of the Literature

The problem of late assignments is not easily solved. Many students will submit work beyond its due date despite severe academic penalties such as half credit. For many more, the threat of half credit is a disincentive to complete the assignment at all, a fact that leads to unnecessary zeros, and to a further falling behind academically. Failure in one class may cause a student to lose interest in other classes. Poor academic performance can equal a loss of desire to achieve, or even to try. The young man or young woman may end his or her school career as a dropout. Academic penalties are not the answer. We must understand the problem in order to combat it.

Traditionally, teachers have attacked the problem of late assignments by providing a clear disincentive to turn in work late. Overdue work would automatically receive a significantly lower grade than on time work, regardless of student effort or achievement. Most commonly, the grade given would equal to fifty percent of that awarded for timely work; the fifty percent figure being chosen not for any supposed instructional benefit to the pupil, but because it was easiest for the teacher to calculate. To impose a rule solely for the instructor's convenience violates one of the classic precepts of education: the direction of classroom experience so as to enable students to achieve their… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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