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Wednesday, June 18 • 4:00pm - 5:30pm
POSTER.04 – Identifying the Outliers: A Tool for Assessing Grader Consistency within Large Classes

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Current teaching literature identifies the need for teaching assistant (TA) training programs. While a number of studies describe training in issues such as lesson planning, assessment, and grading, improving TA confidence and student satisfaction, few studies have assessed the degree of grading consistency across TAs following such training. Additionally, in classes with large numbers of lab/tutorial sections and TAs, it can be prohibitively time-consuming for instructors to meaningfully assess and address inter-TA grading consistency. In light of these issues, we have developed an Excel-based graphing tool that allows for visualization and analysis of grade distributions within individual lab/tutorial sections, and present examples of how these graphs may be used to highlight inconsistent graders. We suggest possible interpretations for grade discrepancies, distinguishing between graders who may have difficulty in assessing student performance from the graders who may have a reasonable assessment of student ability that nonetheless needs to be calibrated against the rest of the TAs, and suggest case-specific follow-up strategies for the TAs. Comparison of TA grades with student performance on common tests may help to establish whether higher or lower averages can be explained by having a group of high or low achievers within the lab/tutorial section. Statistical tests support the utility of this graphing tool in identifying inconsistent graders, and identify the minimum class sizes that would provide useful data. While this approach does not replace proper TA training and guidance, it may be used to identify the TAs that would benefit from additional conversations about teaching practice, and suggests possible intervention strategies based on best practices that allow the instructor to supervise TAs more efficiently and effectively.  This tool also has the potential to provide feedback on the influence of TA training on grading practices, and could be used to determine the appropriate level of guidance to provide to TAs.  This tool and user guide will be available to conference attendees at the poster. We will also demonstrate its use on a laptop during the poster session.

Wednesday June 18, 2014 4:00pm - 5:30pm EDT
McArthur Hall

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