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43 votes
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Intergration by differentiating will get you $0$ marks - but how to explain why?

Your student should get full marks. In fact, I would say that even a more complicated example, like $$\int 2x\cos(x^2) dx = \sin(x^2) + C$$ should be awarded full points as long as the student ...
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43 votes

Student asked me if it is necessary to simplify fractions at the end of answering a question. I'm not sure how to respond

The short answer to your question is: everyone is right. I agree with people here that in many contexts, $0.75$ or $\frac{3}{4}$ would be a more desirable answer than $\frac{45}{60}$. I also agree ...
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  • 630
36 votes
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Adding irrelevant humorous questions to a quiz exam

I think there's room for differences of opinion on this, and the answer might depend on the ages of the students or who the specific students are. When I was a student I enjoyed questions like this, ...
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34 votes
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How should I grade true-or-false questions if the student's writing is unclear?

I read them as TTTFT. But the fourth is very hard to tell, the first somewhat hard to tell, and all show poor writing, perhaps indicating a lack of engagement. You could tell him that such terrible ...
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  • 356
28 votes

Should I change my take-home exam policy because of one suspected cheater?

It's not just one student. As mentioned in comments, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Various studies gauge the percent of college students who cheat at somewhere between 75% and 98%. I would ...
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28 votes

Adding irrelevant humorous questions to a quiz exam

No, I think this is a really silly idea. Let's assume that students are trying to get a 100% score. What is the correct answer to "I love mathematics - true/false"? Is the "I" there the teacher? The ...
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27 votes
Accepted

Students understand during course but can't solve exam

Do NOT give exam questions that are intentionally more challenging than homework or in-class problems. I would recommend precisely the opposite. The point of the exam is really a spot-check that ...
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24 votes

Adding irrelevant humorous questions to a quiz exam

Not a good idea in my opinion. I am on the Autism spectrum and as such I am a very very literal person and I am often derailed by trying to understand a poorly-defined question. Neurotypical people ...
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  • 359
23 votes
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A smart student that struggles in exams

There are several possible explanations. Without much more information, it is impossible to give a clear-cut answer. Perhaps your student is able to "read" your unconcisious reactions very ...
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  • 12k
21 votes

Is it a bad idea to offer variants of a final exam based on the type of allowed calculators?

Let's start by saying that I strongly advice against such a dual-exam. Even if you and everyone involved in the planning think it is fair, students might think differently. In this way, you open up ...
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  • 1,286
20 votes
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Should students be given partial scores when they gave an incomplete proof by contradiction?

There's no abstract reason that an imperfect proof by contradiction should categorically fail to get credit. A proof should generally get partial credit based on how much knowledge of the relevant ...
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20 votes

Student asked me if it is necessary to simplify fractions at the end of answering a question. I'm not sure how to respond

I am a GCSE Maths examiner. For a question like this, any correct equivalent decimal, percentage or fraction, whether simplified or not, would receive full marks. It is only specifically if it says in ...
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  • 1,574
19 votes
Accepted

Student asked me if it is necessary to simplify fractions at the end of answering a question. I'm not sure how to respond

The answer to your question depends on the pedagogical goal of the exercise, and what learning outcomes you have identified. It basically comes down to the following question: Is manipulating ...
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18 votes

Intergration by differentiating will get you $0$ marks - but how to explain why?

I agree with the other post that you should give full credit unless there were clear directions saying what would and wouldn't be acceptable approaches. I think it would be very, very hard to convey ...
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16 votes

How can I learn to write better questions to test for conceptual understanding?

Agreeing with comments and other posts: If you want more conceptual answers, give them less details in the set-up. Using your velocity problem, here are a couple of examples of making it more ...
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  • 6,350
15 votes

Why don’t all professors let students use notes, books, etc. on exams?

Making a course easier to pass is not the same as making a good course. There is a certain corpus of knowledge with which practitioners are expected to have instant recall (a.k.a: "automaticity"). If ...
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13 votes
Accepted

Exam philosophy

Since you remark that your question is "deliberately non-specific," here is a (necessarily) incomplete response: First are two links to documents about assessment that might be of interest, and then ...
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13 votes
Accepted

When handing back exams, what should we tell our students about the distribution of exam scores?

Summary: Favorite options "approximate" grade breakdown (no mean, median, or standard deviation, so there is no comparison to other students, this doesn't necessarily mean fixed grading) no ...
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13 votes

Abandon all hope, ye who enter my office!

I wouldn't put any such sentence on your door, just one in the syllabus explaining your make-up exam policy which should be determined at the beginning of the semester. You don't want to come off as ...
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  • 2,584
13 votes

Intergration by differentiating will get you $0$ marks - but how to explain why?

A bit too long for a legit comment... I think a very important question in the background here is that of whether we want to teach students that "correct" math involves primarily adherence to somewhat-...
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  • 13.5k
13 votes

Should I change my take-home exam policy because of one suspected cheater?

My own experience is to not give any high-stakes take-home exam-like content (I'm not speaking of a paper, of course) in a lower-level course. There is too much incentive for even well-meaning ...
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  • 5,752
13 votes
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A student is cheating and I don't know how

First off, I challenge the framing of the question. You seem to be seeking answers for the question How did the student get the correct answer from this work? Unfortunately, I don't think that ...
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13 votes

Why don’t all professors let students use notes, books, etc. on exams?

I think that allowing students to use resources on exams can work well in certain situations, such as when the knowledge they can pull from those resources is peripheral (not of core importance to the ...
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  • 593
13 votes

How do you handle the frustration of having to GRADE student exams / homework?

I have found that, for myself, implementing standards based grading has eliminated this frustration entirely. I now find grading to be enjoyable. I have a collection of standards for my course like &...
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12 votes
Accepted

Requiring students to know all the proofs on an oral exam

This will depend in some part on the course you are taking. If it is an introduction to proofs class, then probably it is reasonable to hold such an expectation. For higher level courses, some of the ...
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12 votes

When handing back exams, what should we tell our students about the distribution of exam scores?

I've personally stopped giving the mean entirely, because it almost always gives an incorrect perception to students. Since the distribution is almost always skewed by very low-scoring outliers, the ...
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  • 19.1k
12 votes
Accepted

As a TA, how to reduce imprecise notations/statements in students' exams

Let me echo Benjamin's comment that any proactive step that you take should be done with the instructor's permission. At a practical level, I think there are ways to address issues (a) and (b). For (...
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12 votes
Accepted

A4 paper of notes in an exam

I believe allowing students to prepare notes for use on an exam is a valuable way to help them focus their exam studying. I do not see the creation of the sheet as a waste of time. To make the notes, ...
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  • 19.1k
12 votes

Why don’t all professors let students use notes, books, etc. on exams?

I think it is usually counterproductive. Instead of building skills, it rewards students who are good at information retrieval. And I say that as one of those advantaged. Still remember a P-chem ...
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