Instead of handing back a test with a grade at the top, hand back a test that highlights students' mistakes.
Often, students only look at their grade when they get an assignment or test back and ignore feedback that could help them improve. This practice helps students focus more on their understanding rather than just their performance, and normalizes mistakes as part of this learning process.
When giving back tests or assignments that are graded, do not tell students their grade. Instead, highlight students' mistakes. Students can look up their grade the next day. Note: Highlight in this case means to literally highlight a mistake using a highlighter marker. Watch, 'Highlighting Mistakes: A Grading Strategy’ from the Teaching Channel to see this practice in action.
- When grading each test, go over it twice.
- In the first pass, highlight where in the work flow the student made a mistake, not simply the incorrect answer. Do not make any other comments.
- In the second pass, look at the test as a whole to see if there are patterns. Is the student making the same mistake over and over again? Or is he/she making many different types of mistakes?
- Assign points based on what types of mistakes students are making and how important those mistakes are, not simply how many mistakes students are making. For example, if a student is making the same type of mistake over and over again, they would get more points than a student who made the same number of mistakes, but who made many different types of mistakes.
- Do not write the grade on the test, but make note of the grade.
- Before you hand out tests, show students your favorite mistakes from the test. Together, have students figure out why you highlighted each mistake.
- Hand out tests.
- Ask students to look over their mistakes to see if they understand them. If they don't, they should talk to you or to a peer.
- Students can check their grade the next day.
- Students can retake the test as many times as they need.
Time of year: Anytime
Class period: Anytime