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Abstract Title: Graduate teaching assistants use different criteria when grading introductory physics vs. quantum mechanics problems
Abstract: Physics teaching assistants (TAs) are often responsible for grading in courses at all levels. Since grading communicates instructors' expectations, TAs' grading practices play a crucial role in shaping students' approaches to problem solving. However, TAs may have a vast array of beliefs about learning and problem solving that may impact how they grade student solutions in introductory and advanced physics courses. To investigate possible discrepancies in TAs' beliefs and practices related to grading in courses at different levels, we implemented a sequence of instructional activities in a TA professional development course which asked TAs to grade student solutions of introductory physics and upper-level quantum mechanics problems and explain why, if at all, their grading approaches were different or similar in the two contexts. We find that there are clear differences in these two contexts and a majority of the TAs are significantly more strict in grading in quantum mechanics. Unlike the introductory physics context, in quantum mechanics, they penalize students for not explicating the problem solving process. Differences in TAs' grading approaches and reasons for the differences in the two contexts based upon individual interviews, class discussions and written responses will be discussed. The findings of this study have implication for the professional development of TAs.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Charles Henderson
Western Michigan University
Department of Physics
1903 W. Michigan Ave.
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
and Co-Presenter(s)
Emily Marshman, University of Pittsburgh
Ryan Sayer, University of Pittsburgh
Chandralekha Singh, University of Pittsburgh
Edit Yerushalmi, Weizmann Institute of Science