"An educated mind is a questioning mind. Or is it?" ~ T.S. Welti

On Grades, Learning Outcomes Assessment,
and Learner-Centeredness

by Rafael A. Pulmano, CPA, MBA

Where do I begin?
Know thy students

Virtual crystal ball

With my e-record, I now know more about my students. I think I also understand them better. That is, in terms of how they perform in class. I'll have a full discussion of this in the Tracking student performance section later.

Updated daily, my e-record also acts as a "crystal ball" that helps me predict (or at least venture an educated guess) with 100% accuracy about what would most likely happen. By the end of the first week of instruction, for example, I can tell who among my students will fail the course, unless timely intervention is set in motion.

Take a look, for instance, at how each individual student performed during the first three days of instruction in my accounting class (Tables 2, 3 and 4).

Table 2 shows results of the first class work that students did on their first day in class. Of the 20 students registered in the course, five got "F" on this activity. And of those five who got "F", one did not show up (automatic grade of "0%"), while two others did not submit their work (also, automatic "0%")

TABLE 2 – Grades of Students on Day 1 (Click to zoom)

On the second day, students were given a reading and homework assignment. Following a lecture/discussion on the topics for the day, students did another class work. On the third day, two more homework were due, and the class had its first chapter quiz.

Attendance record on Day 2 showed that four students missed the class. On the third day, two were absent.

The cells with sky blue background on the right side of Tables 2, 3 and 4 indicate who among the students failed to turn in their work or perform scheduled class activities. The GRADE-T0-DATE columns revealed a strong correlation between MISSED classes, homework, class work and quizzes to the resulting grades. See those in red?

Notice also that at the end of the first day, 17 students still had chances to earn final grades of "A" and the remaining three students, "B" (Table 2, HIGHEST GRADE POSSIBLE, last two columns). Prospects of earning the highest final grade, however, started to dwindle after the second day (Table 3), and by end of the third day, the most that some students could look forward to were either "B, C, or D" (and even "F"), unless they started doing something about the situation.

TABLE 3 – Grades of Students on Day 2 (Click to zoom)

TABLE 4 – Grades of Students on Day 3 (Click to zoom)

As instructor, I could say with certainty that the four students at the bottom of the list in Table 4 would fail the course unless, as I stated earlier, timely intervention is set in motion.

One such intervention, I propose, is the hiring of tutors early, ideally before the semester begins. That way, tutors are available by the second week to serve students who need assistance. In the case of accounting which I teach, a delay of as much as three weeks to one month could make it really difficult for the affected students to try and catch up with missed opportunities to achieve learning outcomes. See how these students were doing after 10 days, when the Early Warning Deficiency Report was due from instructors.

With one student being automatically withdrawn due to excessive absences. Of the 19 students remaining, 12 (or 63%) had grades of "C" or higher. Seven students with "D" and "F" (37%) continued to struggle with the course and would definitely benefit from tutorial services if made available as early as possible.

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Tracking student performance
Assessing student learning outcomes

Questions? Comments? Please email me.

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2017 Rafael A. Pulmano. Design by Andreas Viklund | Modified by Jason Cole