Incentivize good behavior for Effort, Participation, and Altruism by awarding a small number of points at the end of the course in order (enough points to bump students up a half a grade) to maintain an good classroom environment.

  • Make sure students clearly understand what kind of behavior will result in good EPA grades.
    • Provide students with the detailed grade attributes to help them understand what is expected of them.
  • When grading students on a scale of 300 points, there are 10 points between grade boundaries (A+. A, A-, etc), thus an EPA (Effort, Participation, and Altruism) of 5 points can bump students up by half a grade.
    • Some behavior that can impact the EPA would be frequently turning in extra credit.
      • These students receive points for the extra credit and for the EPA contribution.
    • Important note: in the classroom this tip originates from, students are graded on an absolute scale.
      • If the entire class’ GPA is too low, Garcia tries to fix this by increasing the weighting factor of extra credit, so EPA ends up being even more important.
        • Only if this does not adequately address the problem does he nudge the entire class up.
    • In a college environment, have course TAs, teacher assistants, grade each student from 0-3 on each factor in EPA in a big google spreadsheet.
  • Grading Attributes:
    • Effort
      • Effort is a measure of how hard students try.
        • E.g., Do they come to lab? Attend review sessions? Come to office hours? Keep up with the lab activities (whether or not they get them right)?
    • Participation
      • Participation measures whether students speak up in lab and lecture, and help make the class dynamic and interactive.
        • E.g., Do they contribute to the "community" in your lab section?
    • Altruism
      • Altruism measures how much students help their fellow classmates learn.
        • Garcia and his TAs organized the seating in lab to encourage small group discussions – make use of it, and teach each other!
  • Grading Scale:
    • Each part of EPA is scored from 0-3 according to these guidelines:
      • 1: most students will fall under this category.
      • 2: exception students, typically 4-5 per section.
      • 3: the most stand out student, only 1 per section.
      • 0: if a student doesn’t deserve extra credit in a particular category, have the TAs leave the spreadsheet blank in that space.
    • The student's overall EPA grade will be the max grade for each TA, counting the instructor as a TA, for each field.
      • score = max_TAs(E) + max_TAs(P) + max_TAs(A)
    • This grade is a confidential assessment and will not be shared with students.

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