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For math, would you say that most teachers give partial credit ?

  1. Aug 8, 2011 #1
    In math have you ever had a teacher who gives no partial credit ?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 8, 2011 #2
    Yes. A lot of the first year calc profs at my school give multiple choice midterms and finals, and they're usually only 15-20 questions. Those are really annoying tests because the guy who knows his stuff really well but makes a little negative mistake gets graded the same as the guy who had no clue how to do the question and just guessed. But, unfortunately, it's up to the discretion of the teacher, and if everyone has to take the same type of test, there's not much you can complain about, whether it seems like an unfair marking scheme or not. The fact is, right/wrong tests are a heck of a lot easier to mark.
  4. Aug 8, 2011 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    Yes. It's not completely crazy - on the one hand, you don't want to penalize someone too much for a sloppy error, but on the other, there are students who can't get a single problem fully correct and yet expect an A-.
  5. Aug 8, 2011 #4
  6. Aug 8, 2011 #5
    Yea its hardly fair for you to lose 100% of the points on a problem that took like a page to complete and you missed a negative sign somewhere.

    I think most of my professors to this, not just math. The only class I had where the professor would hardly even both to look at the work was Statics.

    Awful class with awful professor. I once lost 10% (a whole letter grade) on a test because I didnt state that the forces in the y axis were equal to 0 N. I felt this was obvious and unneeded to be stated. For the record I did put it in my actual work, I just didnt write it on the answer sheet.
  7. Aug 8, 2011 #6
    That's true. But on the other hand, math simply isn't fair (why should it?). Same goes for physics or actually any natural science. I can see that in school you don't want to penalize people who understood the idea but merely can't concentrate properly or didn't learn the proper work discipline, yet. But when it goes towards the professional level this changes: Everyone prefers an engineer that sometimes gets stuck and sometimes gets the correct solution over one that always gets some solution but often a wrong one (because of "only a sign error").

    A person with a university degree in a quantitative discipline should be able to work on a not-too-complicated problem independently, and that automatically implies being able to consistently perform correct calculations (without a supervisor having to always check and correct them). That does of course not say that students shouldn't be given partial credits. But it is clear that at the end the goal "getting most problems 100% correct" must stand and be achieved by everyone, and students complaining about not being given partial credit sometimes seem to miss this mindset.

    @Jurassic: No, not really.
  8. Aug 8, 2011 #7
    I agree to that point.

    Its hardly fair to lose 100% for a tiny error, but its also unfair to get 90% for just "getting the concept right". A good middle ground is needed.

    Also if a problem is multi-part, say A-D and B-D rely on A. I think on an exam if you get A wrong but did B-D right then you should get full credit for B-D. It's always bugged me if professors dont do that.
  9. Aug 8, 2011 #8
    I agree with this. Although, I think that students should be given plenty of time on a test if this is the philosophy being used. I don't think it's fair to make someone rush through a problem and expect them not to make little mistakes. Luckily all my severely time-pressured tests have been marked with a lot of emphasis on method rather than final answer. I guess the assumption there is that if your method is correct, you could probably get the right answer if you were given more time.
  10. Aug 8, 2011 #9
    I wouldn't necessarily agree with that point all too much. I've heard of quite a few brilliant mathematicians out there that can't do simple arithmetic operations. And this requirement for "consistency" or "precision" is skeptical, especially in pure mathematics (here, I am not addressing engineering or other sciences). This requirement easily correlates to a skill in "test-taking".

    In higher-level (especially abstract as opposed to analytic/applied) mathematics, it seems that at least getting the concept right IS truly worth almost all the credit for a problem.
  11. Aug 8, 2011 #10
    To this point, I'd like to add that all the math classes I've seen where no partial credit is awarded have been math classes specifically designed for engineers/scientists.
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