I've been throwing out this idea to a few of my colleagues: "Are we encouraging students to 'cheat' by assigning points to homework?" Because I teach math, I see assigning a "score" to homework each night as being in one of three categories:
1) Points are based on "effort" - if students attempt the problems, show their work, etc. they receive "points." Failing to showing work, checking with a pen and/or turn it in equates to fewer, if any points. In this scenario, students are rewarded for effort and encouraged to collaborate because "effort" counts. Students who are able to show "just enough work" or make their work look different from friends can still earn maximum credit. Students are, in a way, encouraged to "beat the system" if they don't understand the material...after all, effort, not mastery counts! This also creates a mismatch for students/parents. Do "points" equate to "learning" or "effort"? In other words, if a student has earned the maximum amount of "points" on their homework assignments, does that mean they "understand" it...or does it mean they "did it?" This can be confusing to stakeholders.
2) Students are rewarded homework points based on the number of problems they get correct each night. This rewards students who "get it" right away, but penalizes those who take longer to process or make several/many mistakes before overcoming their misconceptions. This also highly encourages students to cheat. If a student can figure out a way to get the "right" answers and sneak it by the teacher, he/she has "won" the points battle and has a better grade. To get the same results, why not just give students a test every day?
3) A third system is possible that combines the first two.
A colleague suggested some sort of in-class computer-scored assessment on a daily basis to take the place of a homework score. While I like this idea, because it gives students immediate feedback, I still am not sure if it should be 'graded.' When do students get a chance to make mistakes? Shouldn't their grade reflect their "summative learning" rather than some sort of "points" system that attempts to keep them accountable?
More
thoughts are available on my blog.
What ways have you found, both with and without technology to get around the "points" system and instead emphasize learning?