Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Surprise, Surprise: Correlation Between Exam Grades and Intelligent Engagement

Img074 I have now received back the number key that allows me to figure out which grades I gave to which students.  There is something nicely affirming about this, as I look at Class #1, which had 41 grade exams.  I only wish that I had made a prediction beforehand, based on constructive class engagement, really to test this, but it seems to me there is pretty good correlation between that and the final grade on the exam.  Of the eleven grades of A and A-, I would say I was not surprised by any of them, and certainly not by at least nine of them.  There were three I would have predicted to have gotten an A who did significantly below that (i.e. B or below).

And it seems like there was a significant correlation between disengagement, unpreparedness in class, and getting a C.  Again, there were a couple surprises on the negative side, but not many.

Based on a quick scan of the grades and the people, it looks to me like the same holds for Class #2.

Both of these classes were upper level.  When I taught first semester Contracts at Wake Forest last year, it seemed a lot more random.

Note:  I did not use the dartboard after all.

[Jeff Lipshaw]


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Sometimes I wonder how we do get correlations between what we think we're testing on exams and what we think that the students have learned, especially since no one really trains law professors on how to design exams. Over time, I think we get the hang of it (and Jeff, I think you got the hang of it a lot more quickly than I did!), but what if the tests we design aren't testing the material but rather how well we ourselves create exams that are like those we took (and did well on) in law school? Does anyone out there have suggestions on how best to tailor the exams to the topics that we hope that our students have learned?

Posted by: Nancy Rapoport | Jan 16, 2007 3:22:09 PM

It seems that everyone works very hard fall 1L, but once they get their grades back, most of them are crushed. When the 90% of the mediocre students stop participating, the only ones who are left are the ones who excel at law exams.

Posted by: M. | Jan 17, 2007 8:44:37 PM

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