Abstract: Student essays on introductory astronomy exams can be consistently and efficiently graded by a single instructor, or by multiple graders for a large class. This is done by constructing a robust outcome rubric while sorting exams into separate stacks, then checking each stack for consistency. Certain online resources readily provide primary source prompts for writing astronomy exam essay questions.
Outcomes: Workshop participants will learn how to grade sample student essays by sorting them into piles based on a rubric system, how to write robust rubrics, and how to find resources to write essay questions that lead to effective rubrics.
(This presentation, sample essay questions, rubrics and more information is posted at: tinyurl.com/rubricsorting.)
Briefly go through each stack as a check; you may find a few exams that need to be bumped up or down to an adjacent stack. Once you are satisfied with your sorting, then you can write-in the rubric letters on each exam. If you have more than one essay question on an exam, keeping these same stacks when sorting for the next question may be useful, as there could be some correlation between how students replied to different questions on the same exam.
Note the typography of the letters used, which prevent students from modifying a rubric letter to their advantage. The upper-case "R" is used instead of a lower-case "r" to prevent it being made into a "p" to gain more points. Likewise an italicized lower-case "x" is used to prevent it being made into a lower-case "t" to gain more points, or being made from a lower-case "y." This leaves only disadvantageous ways to modify these letters:
- lower-case "t" to italicized lower-case "x."
- lower-case "v" to italicized lower-case "x."
- lower-case "v" to lower-case "y."
- lower-case "v" to lower-case "z."
- p: Correct.
- R: Nearly correct (explanation weak, unclear or only nearly complete); includes extraneous/tangential information; or has minor errors.
- t: Contains right ideas, but discussion is unclear/incomplete or contains major errors.
- v: Limited relevant discussion of supporting evidence of at least some merit, but in an inconsistent or unclear manner.
- x: Implementation/application of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit.
- y: Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
- z: Blank.
"On the twilight horizon, a crescent moon was rising. I watched it hook on to a branch right above me, and dangle there, like a new sickle blade gleaming in the darkening sky."
--Minfong Ho, The Clay Marble, Marshall Cavendish, 1992, p. 71.
"It was a rich warm golden evening early in that most beautiful appearance of nature on one side of the heaven, the sun sinking down to rest in a glory of mellow light and gorgeous colour, and on the other, the pure pearly crescent moon rising above the tree tops..."
--Henry F. Chorley, "Helen, A Sketch," The Honey-moon by the Countess of Blessington and Other Tales, Vols. 1-2, E.L. Carey and A. Hart, 1837, p. 71.
"I awake early the next morning with a mosquito whining in my ear... I go outside the tent and see a thin crescent moon rising above the lake. I would like to stay outside and watch the breaking of the day, but the mosquitoes drive me back."
--Max Finkelstein and James Stone, Paddling the Boreal Forest: Rediscovering A.P. Low, Dundum, 2004, p. 143.
"After dinner, the men assembled in the centre of the camp around a large fire... The crescent moon crept slowly behind the clouds in the east. When it was fully exposed, the tabla player changed the tune to a fast beat. The men stood up and watched the crescent rising in the sky."
--Shafik Benjamin, Kismet in the Sand, AuthorHouse, 2009, p. 5.
P-dog: ...If Venus is above the east horizon at sunrise (so it is a morning star), can it be above the west horizon at sunset (so it can be an evening star) later on that day?
aladdinwa: No, it cannot be both the morning and evening star on the same day... When Venus rises before the sun, you can see it before the sun rises and it is the morning star and it disappears below the horizon while the sun is still in the sky...
--Adapted from http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20120511191408AARz0Af.
P-dog: Could a [planet more massive than Earth around another sun-like star] support life...? Would [it]...be too hot, or too cold, or could [it] have moderate temperatures?
Quadrillian: ...A giant rocky planet could easily exist outside the orbit of Mars and...be habitable [with moderate temperatures.]
--Adapted from http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20111217134914AA3qcNa.
P-dog: Can a star be cooler and more luminous than a hotter, less luminous star?
green meklar: Yes. A star can be both cooler and more luminous, if it is larger.
--Adapted from http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20130423004321AAlfY6k.
P-dog: Would an old star cluster or a new star cluster have supergiants and white dwarfs?
tham153: It would certainly be very unlikely for any cluster to have supergiants and white dwarfs...
--Adapted from http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20130419183134AAKacCx.
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