Saturday, April 5, 2008

Marking a science paper Dilemma

I had just started teaching 4 years ago. That time I was teaching General Science to 6th graders besides Mathematics. It was first term examination. It was the first time the students were facing an exam paper with mostly application and understanding problems. Of course, while designing an exam paper, we have to keep 35-40% of knowledge based questions for slow learners. I was given the previous years papers of the school, which much to my dislike, were all knowledge based questions. Questions like "Define....", "What is ...". But one or two questions like "Explain how this process happen", "Why ....." kinds.

Anyway, so my paper was one of the first kinds that students were appearing. There was this student who had answered all the tricky questions correctly. I was really so happy and excited correcting his paper. But excitement was short-lived when I saw the last answer. In the science paper, there was a question to draw a diagram of the digestive system. And this student had drawn all organs correctly, but instead of liver he drew lungs with alveoli, the air -sacs, and trachea. He, being very good at drawing, did an amazing amalgam of both respiratory and digestive organs! Thus, I did not give him any mark for the diagram.

Then came the result day when the students and parents are shown the answer booklets. This boy's mother comes with the answer booklet to ask me the reason for no marks for the diagram, the same assorted digestive-respiratory system. I explained her the reason. She started her parental negotiations for increasing marks. She said that he had drawn the stomach correctly, and pancreas correctly. I told her that pancreas are not above lungs! But she would not stop the negotiations. I told her that if today I give him marks, he will never learn the difference between lungs and liver. Now, that he lost a full score in Biology, he will remember it lifetime the position of lungs and liver.

Still the lady persisted, that give 2 marks out of 5 to my son so that his percentage will increase. I was getting a little annoyed now. I told her once and for all, that I will not increase the marks. I being a teacher will always want my students to understand what they are learning, writing and if decide to memorize, then to do with complete understanding. Just rote-learning is not going to help your son at all in future.

I guess, some people cannot be convinced with any amount of logic. Somehow, I managed to keep my cool and did not budge from my stand. Finally, she left. Many times parents come with such stuff when we have to decide the firm path.

What is your opinion? What you would have done?


  1. u did great...
    Its a great feeling to learn from failures.

  2. Yes Jagadish, one has to learn from failures.


Post your comment