I Let Them Grade Their Own Tests – And They Loved It

Well, most of them loved it.  A few did not.  I got this nifty idea from my great peeps on Twitter (thanks @pamLpatterson and @park_star).  I make them do quiz corrections now, but I noticed they don’t do a very good job.  Often, they have a difficult time correcting the problem.  I offer Work Time and after school help to work on quiz corrections, but not everyone takes me up on that or they are the students that need help with the new material that we are covering.

Enter, Grade Your Own Tests day.  I had them take a test like they usually do, but also had them transpose their final answer (with no work show) onto an answer sheet.  After I took everything up, I graded just the answer sheet right or wrong with no partial credit.

The fun part was when I then handed back ONLY their tests with not a mark on them.  They were confused.  I explained that I had already graded their answer sheets but I only graded them right or wrong, with no partial credit.  They were to grade their own tests in order to earn their partial credit.  I gave them each a colored pencil and a copy of the key with all of the solutions worked out and the possible points for each problem.   They had to check each step against the steps on the key.  For each step they missed, they had to write the correct step in colored pencil.  Then, using a few guidelines I created, they had to decide how many points they missed on each question.  (My guidelines were -1 for losing a negative or making an arithmetic error, and +1 for writing the correct equation but missing the answer).    We worked on it for about 15 minutes in class so I could help guide them and answer questions.  They were to finish grading for their homework that night.

Once they turned their graded papers back in I re-graded every one to make sure they gave themselves the correct credit (and to compare it with their original answer sheet to make sure they stayed honest).  I was very impressed that most of my students did an excellent job of grading their own papers.  I  only had to correct a few papers.  A couple of students turned their papers in with just the answers marked wrong and no corrections.  I gave them back and told them they had to earn their partial credit back by showing all of the corrections.

This was actually a lot more work for me as I had to grade their answer sheets, then guide them through grading their own papers, then check their grading.  But, it seemed like a very valuable exercise.  The funny thing was that a few students thought they were saving me work by grading their own paper for me.  I surveyed the students and an overwhelming majority liked it and wanted to grade their own papers again.  The few that did not enjoy this seemed to be the ones that had a difficult time understanding how to give themselves partial credit or still didn’t understand how to do the problem, even with the key.  If I do this again, I will work more closely with those students at first and offer extra help time to work on the corrections individually with me.

We recently took another equation quiz, and overall their equation solving skills dramatically improved so I feel like they learned from this activity.  I would love to do this again, but would like to know if there is a better way (that is less work for me).  So, if you are doing something similar but better – please share!

Here are the students comments from the survey:

What did you like about grading your own test?

  • that you could go back and see your mistakes and know where you need to improve.
  • that I got to see what and where I went wrong
  • that you could go back and see your mistakes and know where you need to improve.
  • That i could go back with the answers, see what i did wrong and see how to actually do it the day after the test/quiz
  • I got to see clear mistakes that i had and wall able to correct them.
  • What i liked about grading my paper is that i got to learn from my mistakes and get better at what i got wrong because if we got the problem wrong when we are correcting it we are supposed write out and explain what we got wrong. That helps.
  • “knowing exactly what i did and seeing my score
  • “I liked it because you can defiantly see your mistakes.
  • i liked it because u could see what u were doing wrong
  • I liked trying to be A Teacher for the first time
  • I like that i kinda fell better if i get a good grade and i grade it myself i do not know why though.
  • I liked grading my own paper because we got to see what we got and how we were supposed to get it if we didn’t get a problem correct.
  • being able to give myself at least some credit
  • I like to see what kinds of things that i messed up on.
  • I liked being able to see what I messed up on. I looked at it more and got a good understanding of what I got wrong.
  • It was easier to see what mistakes I did make and how to correct them. I thought it was a good way to understand the material better – reworking the problems.
  • It was fun because you could really understand what you did wrong and understand what you needed to do to help fix it.
  • I like that you can see your mistakes and understand completely what and why you got a problem incorrect.
  • I liked it because i could redo what i was missing and look over my paper more.
  • I like being able to see what I did wrong. Seeing my own mistakes helps me learn what to do a little better. If I just got everything right whats the point? You wouldn’t learn anything!
  • I liked being able to correct my own mistakes.  Interacting with what you did wrong helps you learn it for the next time.  Usually you just see what was wrong and you go ok but you never really learn how to fix it unless you do it yourself.
  • I liked getting an idea of what you did wrong when grading it and getting an idea what my grade will be ahead of time before the teacher grades it.
What did you NOT like about grading your own test?
  • knowing how many mistakes you got.
  • Having to face my mistakes
  • seeing how many mistakes you made.
  • ???
  • All the mistakes that i had to correct was embarrassing
  • What i did not like is that i felt bad when i got a answer wrong because of a silly mistake that i made.
  • nada
  • It takes some time to finish grading the paper.
  • i didn’t like that it was a little confusing for some people like me to understand how to do it at first
  • I did not like that i had to see my grade  i think i got wait another day and get my real grade.
  • I didn’t like grading my own paper because it was extra work when instead we could’ve been learning.
  • it was hard and very confusing i didnt understand most of what i was supposed to do.  It was easier when you just graded my tests.
  • I don’t like grading my paper because it makes me really nervous.
  • I wasn’t exactly sure how to grade it, and how many points to take off, but I got it eventually.
  • I wasn’t always 100% how to rework them – even with the answer key. I really liked grading my own paper overall.
  • Nothing.
  • I kind of like that moment when you get your paper back with a grade on it; it’s really exciting and sort of scary. Like a rollercoaster, a little? But a math rollercoaster? I don’t know, it’s just fun.
  • I also thought it was a little harder because I had to find exactly where I got it wrong and felt like it was a little hard.
  • What I didn’t like was how it can tempt you to break the honor code by correcting an answer that you got wrong just to boost your grade.
  • The only thing i didn’t like about grading my own paper was that as i went through the problems it was more pressure because i did not want to have one wrong or correct one wrong.
  • I did not like grading my own paper because I’d rather just get the teachers grade. I get a little aggravated when I’m not sure if this is the grade that I will really get when it is graded by the teacher.

9 thoughts on “I Let Them Grade Their Own Tests – And They Loved It

  1. Great description! Thanks for sharing. I, too, tried this recently. I’ve come up with some (untested) ideas I’ve had that might ease the process on the teacher’s end:

    * have students also write why they got a step wrong. “I forgot to square velocity” is so much easier to spot.
    * design the test with spots for kids to write each step in your rubric, like this: http://yfrog.com/h6ft7qp
    * maybe use a paper scanning app like ExamView or some sort of IDMS to grade the answer sheets (I doubt this saves much time, now that I’ve written it out)

    –mgolding on Twitter

  2. Thanks for posting about this! I like your format of having them make a sheet with just their answers for you to grade and then making them responsible for partial credit. I just photocopied the whole test but your way gives them better incentive to actually grade and not just skim.

    My favorite comment above is from the ‘not like it’ category: “I didn’t like grading my own paper because it was extra work when instead we could’ve been learning.” *facepalm* The other comments about the students being uncomfortable are also really interesting–facing mistakes and learning/fixing them is such an important skill and doesn’t happen nearly enough in math classes.

    Again, cheers to this take on having students grade!

  3. Ok, I like this idea. I teach 4th grade so I’d have to come up with a way for them to do this. I can see doing a form of this, but not sure 100% how. Good idea. Thanks

  4. I was rereading your blog, and I just started letting students grade formative tests this year in class. So, these tests are “ungraded” as in I don’t count them as part of their grade. This has given me more time and flexibility. They are usually shorter (around 10 questions) and they students grade their own in the class and write the score. I do some debriefing in class and then I look over the results to see if there are any common mistakes I need to address, or if I only need to address with individual students. Sometimes (when I am really organized), I break them into groups by areas of need. I really enjoy your blog!
    Lisa @nussder on twitter

  5. Lisa,
    I love the idea of not grading those assessments. Do you tell them in advance that it won’t be graded? Do you students mind? I would love to do this more (them working more and me talking less). When you have them grade them do you make a key? Or, do you go over each problem? Lots of questions…. 🙂

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