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CHEM 210
Brian Coppola

On Grading: A quick scan of the course pack will convince you pretty quickly that the examinations in Chemistry 210 are not designed to test your ability to recall the information and examples that you have seen in class or in the text. One of the most convincing ways we have to demonstrate the generalizability of the fundamental chemical concepts we claim are present is to create examinations that are "authentic" problems. That is, these are problems that will honestly test your ability to have gleaned both "the forest" and "the trees" when it comes to understanding how "the big picture" relates to "the pieces". In order to create these exams, we typically grab the latest issues of one of the common chemistry journals, like the Journal of Organic Chemistry or Tetrahedron Letters, places where there is a lot of organic chemistry published, in order to find new examples (examples that were unknown to us prior to having read them). We think our students can make sense of these if they are given an appropriate amount of information. Of course you will not have seen these examples before! That's the idea. As a result of this philosophy, every single point you earn is a real credit towards your understanding. We do not expect, nor should you, that there is some magical number of points that exists by which student work can be judged. Instead, after years of quite consistent testing practices, we have learned...from our to assess and evaluate the work students present on these exams. Here is what we know: 1. the normal, aimed-for mean is about 63-5% (a number that arises from history more than design) 2. the exams are 100% projective and from the literature, so 65% has real substance 3. this assessment means absolutely nothing in an absolute sense (what does 63-5% depends on the exam!) 4. we evaluate your actual writing about chemistry based on history and experience (we are chemists...we look at the chemistry!) 5. the historical evaluation of the 63-5% score, on our exams, based on the understanding of chemistry the answers represent...not just the damned number...has been around a B- (above average expectation, plenty of errors to be somewhat less enthusiastic than "very good") 6. we do NOT use normative grading (i.e., a pre-set “curve” where x% will get "A", y% w
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