Having finished my second year with standards based grading, I am realizing that there are two important components to assessing students. Currently, my students receive a score, 1-4, based on how how close their answers are to being correct. This is then assumed to be representative of their mastery of the material. This is not a poor assumption. But, it does not address a students confidence in their answer. A student who randomly chooses the right formula or relationship will receive the same score as one who is confident in their approach. This is dangerous! This is also part of the game.

Students are economists. Mostly they look at how they spend their time. Some are more frugal with their time committed to schooling in general, others spend liberally on the subjects their interested in, and some through intrinsic or extrinsic motivation will spend all the they can to achieve their economic goals. In economics, such behaviors are modeled with Game Theory. Let’s look at how Game Theory would apply here. Currently, my students standards based grades are solely outcome dependent. But what if they had to rate their confidence?

The best position for a student is to be both confident and correct. But the worst position is for a student to be confident and wrong. In response to this, a student who is confident can receive the widest variance of grades, 1-4. A student who isn’t confident will receive a much narrower range, 2-3.

Traditional Score 4 3 2 1
Confident Score Correct 4 Incorrect 1
Not Confident Score Correct 3 Incorrect 2

This seeks to provide incentives for students to reflect on their understanding during the assessment.

With standard student incentive systems, the focus is always on the answer. Many students find the true value in an assessment in the effects it may have on their of how they, their parents or their peers perception of their ability. While fewer may have an intrinsic drive for the subject in question. I hope this process may enable all students to start reflecting on their process during the moments of greatest value to them.

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